WhatsApp is one of the most widely used applications, with over 2 million users in India alone, and over 1.5 billion worldwide. As WhatsApp was becoming more and more popular, it was acquired by Facebook. This happened in 2014 when WhatsApp was already 5 years old. And just so you know, it cost Facebook $19 billion!
Not a lot of companies drop that much money so easily, which says something about the unprecedented power Facebook has. Something to think about. Check out this book called, The Four by Scott Galloway.
With this acquisition came concerns about the safety and privacy of your information. In 2016, WhatsApp announced that it would share user information with its parent company, Facebook.
Given recent encryption developments, this doesn’t include the actual content of your chats. But it does mean that your account and device information is being shared.
The issue is that most of us are not fully aware of the extent to which our information is being used. I don’t know if you’ve heard about the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Long story short, Facebook shared a ton of personal data that was used for psychological profiling in order to influence Brexit Votes, and the Trump election in the States. So, this scandal involved releasing private information to third-party apps.
Although you might think that the chances of you experiencing a data breach are small, it is nonetheless helpful to avoid certain things on WhatsApp. This is because a data breach is not the only reason you should be careful.
There have been multiple violent incidents around the world resulting from unmitigated, unfiltered, fake news on WhatsApp. Spreading misinformation for politically skewed, or other, agendas is actually quite scary.
In fact, it is possible that the fake news you see is the result of a privacy breach, as was the case in the aforementioned Cambridge Analytica Scandal.
This topic is pretty heavy. I have therefore started the first section of this blog (Safety) with a few examples of this issue.
On a lighter note, there are some silly mistakes you should also keep in mind. These are the simple social “do’s” and “don’t’s” when using an app like WhatsApp. They are also more lighthearted to talk about.
So, in this post, there are two separate sets of things you should avoid doing on WhatsApp. The first set pertains to security-related mistakes, while the second set pertains to social mistakes. The latter might be more useful to the majority of WhatsApp users. However, don’t take security lightly. You never know how a security breach might affect you. Better safe than sorry, I say.
1. Be Vigilant About Fake News/ DON’T Spread Fake News
I think it is safe to say that fake news is perhaps one of the most pertinent and frightening issues with regards to how social media is used.
Indeed, WhatsApp became a primary platform for multiple conspiracy theories and other political misinformation in several countries, with some alarming consequences. So, the first tip naturally entails always being aware of fake news and the potential consequences of spreading it.
The good news is that WhatsApp has taken measures against such activity by setting limits on the number of chats you are allowed to forward messages to. They have also restricted the number of people allowed in WhatsApp groups. In India, measures are even stricter, limiting forwards to 5 chats.
However, WhatsApp is still a private messaging app and not a social network like Instagram or Facebook. So the content of what you share is actually out of the company’s control.
Fake News, India:
In India, fake WhatsApp messages about child kidnappers went viral in 2018, resulting in a mob that killed around 24 innocent people.
Consider just one example. A 65-year-old woman was brutally assaulted on the way to a Temple with her family. Her family was assaulted too. They were stripped down, robbed, and terribly beaten with sticks and iron rods.
When The New York Times reporters went to investigate, they found out that multiple videos showing people driving up and grabbing children were rampant on WhatsApp. This was in addition to the messages being circulated about gang kidnappers “on the prowl.” The content was false, of course, all misinformation.
The videos were tampered with, edited to make it seem like kids were being kidnapped for real. The police said that despite warning people of such misinformation, “they were no match for WhatsApp.”
Fake News, Kenya:
Weeks before Kenya held its election in 2017, WhatsApp and Facebook were being used to spread misinformation amongst the population to influence votes.
Apparently, spreading fake news has become a central element in the mix of all news in Kenya.
In fact, it was noted that 90% of Kenyans had either seen or heard of false stories related to the election. And this included official groups, friends, and families using social media to spread fake news.
Kenya has one of the fastest mobile internet speeds in the world, connecting around 87% of the country’s electoral population. So you can imagine how quickly misinformation spreads, with certainly damaging consequences.
Fake News, Brazil:
Likewise, brazil too was affected by the rampant spread of fake news during election time. Over 120 million WhatsApp users were flooded with false information of all sorts.
Over 44% of Brazil uses WhatsApp for political updates and information. Unfortunately, more than half of what they were reading turned out be fabricated misinformation.
2. Control Who Can See Your Information
Now that the super heavy bit is done, let’s talk about a few other security measures you could take. So, on WhatsApp, you can control who can see your status updates, profile picture and when you were last online. This is a good measure to take just in case of any shady activity.
3. Block Anyone Who Is Harassing You/ Report In Extreme Situations
Needless to say, the best way to get away from being harassed on WhatsApp is to block the said person. If they continue to bother you on different social media platforms, then proceed to block them on all.
If something major happens, maybe someone threatens you, please report them to the police. Also, get help from people you trust, and make sure you save the threatening message. This is unlikely, but important nonetheless.
In the same vein, please don’t join a harassment chain or start harassing someone yourself. Always be respectful. Also, try and avoid perpetuating rumour circulation, you never know how badly you could hurt someone.
4. Be Careful What You Share
Although your messages on WhatsApp are encrypted, once you’ve sent something to one of your contacts, it is no longer in your control. Luckily, WhatsApp now has a feature where you can choose to delete a message that has already been sent. But this feature is useless if the person has already read your message.
I guess it also goes without saying that sharing your bank details on any social media chat is ill-advised. Of course, the same also goes for any personal information that you would want to keep private.
5. Secure Your Data From Being Shared With Facebook
This is optional but if you want to stop your data from being shared with Facebook here’s what to do:
1. Go to your WhatsApp Settings
2. Select Account
3. Tap the Check Mark Next To “Share My Account Info”
4. Select “Don’t Share”
That’s it for security! Well, one last thing. If you use WhatsApp on a device that is not your own, please remember to log out. Now let’s get to the social part.
Wouldn’t it be awful if you broadcasted a picture of a cute guy only your best friends were supposed to see? Wouldn’t it be even worse if your broadcast group included your work contacts? And wouldn’t it be a total nightmare if the cute guy was also in this broadcast group?
Guys, I promise, this happens.
1. Always Double/Triple Check Broadcasts
To avoid the error above, it is best to check who you are sending a message to before you send it. We all tend to type in haste sometimes, forgetting to look up before hitting send.
Plus, a broadcast means damage control becomes even harder. So make sure to double-check especially if you are sharing sensitive information.
2. Keep Separate Work/Personal WhatsApp Accounts
Having the same account can get pretty confusing. It could also be dangerous. Best keep your personal and work accounts separate to avoid silly mistakes. Plus, you might want to appear more professional for work and reflect this through your profile picture.
3. Backup Chat
This is optional but if you’re changing devices you can choose to back up your old chats on a cloud. Here’s how:
1. Open WhatsApp Settings
2. Open Chats
3. Select Chat Backup
4. Select Auto Backup
4. Disable Picture/Video Download
1. Open WhatsApp Settings
2. Go to Chats
3. Turn off “Save to Camera Roll/Media Auto-Download”
5. Customise Notifications
This one is fun and can be pretty useful. To customise notifications, all you have to do is tap on the contact name in the chat window and then chose Custom Tone.
6. Deactivate “Last Seen”
So as you may know, if your “last seen” is on, then you can see when other contacts have been active as well, provided they have the same setting.
You can see the time said contact was last active, located under the person’s name in the chat window. And you can also see whether or not they have read your message, marked by the double blue tick. Best not get too obsessed with this function.
This works the other way around too. If you don’t want people to know that you’ve seen their message or what time you were last active, change this in your settings. Here’s how:
1. Open WhatsApp Settings and Go to Accounts
2. Select Privacy
3. Under “Who Can See My Personal Info” Find Last seen
4. Change from “Everyone” To Your Preference
7. Don’t Become a Spammer
8. Do Cool Stuff To Your Text
Bold: To make parts of your text bold, you need to insert an asterisk at the beginning and at the end of that text (*like this*).
Italics: To make a portion of your text italicized, you need to use an underscore at the beginning and at the end of that text (_like this_).
Strikethrough: Not sure how many people use this, but to strike through a portion of your text, you need to insert a tilde at the beginning and at the end of that text (~like this~). I really like the word “tilde” for some reason.
Font: You can also change up your font from the default one. WhatsApp allows you to use the FixedSys font. To do this, you have to add three grave symbols at the beginning and at the end of that text (“`like this“`). You can find the grave accent symbol by long pressing on the apostrophe key.
9. Mark Message As Unread
This is a cool feature that could help you to remember that you have to reply. I am very forgetful when it comes to responding on time. So to mark a message as unread, you simply long-press on the specific message, and select “mark as unread”
In 2018, WhatsApp introduced the “unsend” lifesaver. This feature allows you to delete messages you’ve already hit send on. To do this, just hold down the message you wish to “unsend” and select delete. You will then get asked whether you want to delete it for yourself or for everyone. Make your choice accordingly.
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Tags: Tips On How To Use WhatsApp, what’s app tips and tricks 2019, new WhatsApp tricks 2019, WhatsApp tricks and cheats 2019