Two Simple WhatsApp Hacks That Secure Your Privacy Immediately

Two Simple WhatsApp Hacks That Secure Your Privacy Immediately

This is where I am coming from: I am using Whatsapp almost since day one.

There are people out there who fear about their privacy when using Whatsapp, but that is not a concern for me. Messages between end users are encrypted. So – different from regular emails – Whatsapp messages cannot easily be intercepted and read by any third party outside of the Whatsapp company.

What may happen is that “the USA” (whoever that is: Facebook, the CIA, NSA, etc. just look for “government data spy usa” and you find plenty of possibly relevant news) can intercept messages, but probably all bureaucracies in any country in this world will spy on their subjects.

And when it comes to data protection: the same people that condemn the use of Whatsapp will download and install “free” apps from the App Store or from Play Store, even when they see evidence that these “free” apps are sending their location data and other data to a central server that will use that data for marketing purposes and other evaluations. I find such mindsets contradictory, to be polite.

So we all agree that by using Internet plus Smartphones, we have surrendered our personal lives to the outer world, whoever being out there.

Secure Your Personal Whatsapp Data From Your Immediate Contacts

What people overlook is the data that we surrender to the people in our contacts list and what they derive from the data. That one is more important because they also know the context of that data and how to use it against us.

Example 1: the “received” symbols for individual messages in WhatsApp. Aa single gray check mark means that your message was sent, but hasn’t been delivered to the other person yet. Two gray check marks mean that your message successfully made it to the other person’s phone, but they haven’t opened it yet. Finally, when the other party has opened your conversation and has seen the message, you’ll see two blue check marks below it. In WhatsApp group chats (chats with three or more members), when all group members have received your message, you’ll see a gray double-check next to it. Once everyone has read the message, this changes to two blue checks.

A problems is here because this Whatsapp received symbols are never reliable. I have seen it many times that a Whatsapp message was marked as “read” on my smartphone while I have never read it. That creates problems when you are dealing with people who have the (wrong) idea that when they have sent out a message to a person that this person has read it. They would even use the Whatsapp “received” symbols as evidence against you.

Example 2: the “last seen” status. What do you think of a person that is often “last seen” at weird times, such as 03:11am in the morning? I have sometimes difficulties to explain what I did at 04:55am in the morning although I find that this is a perfect time for recording screen cast teaching videos. WhatsApp has realized that this can be a problem and they are now hiding your “last seen” status from people you do not know or that you have not chatted with before. For all other people, WhatsApp sets the feature on “active” by default, allowing those to see your status.


The Remedy

The solution is simple: switch off these two Whatsapp features.

For Android phones, click on the three points on the top right corner in the Whatsapp window. For iPhones: click on the “settings” wheel in the bottom right corner of the Whatsapp window.

From there, select “Account” and then “Privacy”.

Set the parameters for “last seen” to “nobody” and turn off the “Read Receipts” switch.



Do this now.

Set the parameters for “last seen” to “nobody” and turn off the “Read Receipts” switch.

Then check the result with a friend and tell them to do the same.

Wash, rinse, and repeat.


Martin “Data Security” Schweiger

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