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WhatsApp stays strong in Nigeria despite new privacy policy headache

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Despite putting in a new privacy policy in place for its users across the world, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is still one of the most downloaded apps in Nigeria in 2021.

Statistics obtained from SimilarWeb on Monday showed that WhatsApp is the third most downloaded app as of January 9. NIMC Mobile and Opera News Lite mobile apps are the only ones that have been downloaded more times than WhatsApp.

GoCash and Audiomack complete the top five list on Google Playstore.

In the App Store, WhatsApp tops the list, while Instagram and Facebook (both of which are owned by the same company that owns WhatsApp), as well as SnapChat and Audiomack, round off the top-five list.

Signal, one of the apps that have been touted to gain from WhatsApp’s new privacy policy misadventure, sits in the 45th position on the most downloaded app list on Playstore, and 27th on App Store.

Another WhatsApp rival Telegram is the 15th most downloaded app on App Store within the same period but it is missing on the list of top 50 downloaded apps on Playstore.

Although the popularity of Signal in other countries, such as India, has spiked in recent days, WhatsApp sits atop the list of apps that are trending down but only on Playstore within the same period in Nigeria.

About 94% of Nigeria’s estimated 200 million population use WhatsApp

The new policy update sparked criticism among users as they must accept the changes or see their access to the service — which also allows encrypted voice and video calls — cut off from February 8.

Facebook aims to monetise WhatsApp by allowing businesses to contact their clients via the platform, even sell them products directly using the service as they already do in India.

“Privacy policy and terms updates are common in the industry and we’re providing users with ample notice to review the changes, which go into effect on February 8th,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

“All users need to accept the new terms of service if they want to continue using WhatsApp,” added the spokesperson.

The firm said the updated terms will allow additional sharing of information between WhatsApp with Facebook and its other applications such as Instagram and Messenger, such as contacts and profile data, but not the content of messages which remain encrypted.

In the EU and Britain, the new terms only allow for the development of functionalities for professional users of WhatsApp Business, a company spokesman told AFP.

User advocates warned the update was not legal.

“If the only way to refuse (the modification) is to stop using WhatsApp, the the consent is forced as the use of personal data is illegal,” said Arthur Messaud, a lawyer for La Quadrature du net, an association that defends internet users.

Additional report by AFP

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