(Image credit- Yahoo)
You might finally be able to quit revealing your phone number to every person or company you want to talk with using WhatsApp.
The messaging app WhatsApp has two big privacy flaws. One is that you have to submit your address book—otherwise known as other people’s private information—to Facebook’s servers (parent company).
The second is that in order to contact someone, you must provide your phone number. New usernames for WhatsApp could resolve the latter.
Ray Walsh, a digital privacy specialist at ProPrivacy, told Lifewire via email: “Users must be given the ability to engage with business channels without needing to provide their cell phone number.”
WhatsApp is increasingly utilized for sales, customer service, and other professional purposes. “It is critical that WhatsApp give users the option to conceal this sensitive personal data because the constant sharing of phone numbers on WhatsApp contributes to the proliferation of personal data that enables cybercriminals to engage in phishing and other scams.”
What is the purpose of WhatsApp?
A recent beta version of WhatsApp reportedly contains a section where users can select a distinctive username, according the report. Although WhatsApp will probably continue to demand a phone number for account signups in order to prevent spam accounts, this would allow users to connect with new users without disclosing their phone numbers and might perhaps remove the requirement for a phone number altogether.
It’s not a major concern if you solely use your messaging app to communicate with close friends and family. In reality, it’s incredibly practical because it makes it simple to start new discussions with contacts you already have in your address book.
However, WhatsApp is the preferred form of communication in a large portion of Europe, which requires giving your phone number to a huge number of strangers.
When you ask the carpenter to fix the wooden object you shattered, they will ask for your phone contact so they can WhatsApp you. The same is true for responding to classified advertisements, etc. People don’t even make frequent phone calls where I reside. Calls on WhatsApp are preferred.
Since our phone numbers are utilized for various security checks, such as providing two-factor login codes through SMS, it doesn’t make sense to keep doing so even if we have been handing them out for decades.
“Protecting our privacy is becoming a more and more crucial issue today. We shouldn’t provide businesses and services with personal, identifying information that we don’t need to share with them, such as phone numbers, social security numbers, etc. By using a WhatsApp username, we can maintain the privacy of our data while still establishing relationships and interaction,” IT specialist Zac Yap told Lifewire via email.
The use of WhatsApp usernames helps
People who relocate or travel for employment are two more frequent use cases. To obtain a local number, these people might switch SIM cards permanently or while traveling. The issue is that if you change phone numbers on WhatsApp, your contacts and conversations do not follow you. You’ll have to start over because it will be as if you abandoned your account and created a new one.
Additionally, if your transfer is permanent, you will be forced to give folks your new foreign phone number, which is a major nuisance.
WhatsApp must also adopt a trustworthy username system that gives accountability and a comprehensive complaints procedure that enables users to report abuse, according to privacy expert Walsh. “Concealing phone numbers from other users could create the opportunity for anonymous harassment or spamming,” Walsh warns.
Overall, though, adding WhatsApp usernames will significantly improve both privacy and usability and if WhatsApp chooses to continue using phone numbers invisibly, all the other conveniences are still available. When it comes to big tech, win-win scenarios like these are so uncommon that we’re beginning to wonder what the catch might be.