I know who you are talking to

If you’re a WhatsApp user – like 2 billion others on the planet – your online status can be queried by third parties. This happens without you noticing anything. All that it takes is your phone number.

Your online status is a source of information

An investigation by Traced shows how online tools can be used to track your WhatsApp online status. You can even check the online status of several numbers in parallel. This lets you see if there is an overlap in their online status and you can draw conclusions. Are they talking/chatting to each other on a regular basis?  For example, if you are suspecting your friend having an affair with your new neighbor, you can get some data on this. All that you need is to enter their numbers and look for online patterns that overlap. While it’s not a perfect tool, it is certainly enough to give you an idea. These online status tools are particularly useful for cyber-stalkers since they like to collect as much information about their targets as possible. With WhatsApp online trackers they can find a way to get insights into who they talk to when they are online and so on.

Your online status is not private

Particularly worrisome is the fact that you cannot deactivate your online status. There is an option in the privacy settings, but this setting changes only the online status display within the app itself. This is by design: Facebook argues that the online status is of particular importance for families. It gives a feeling of closeness when you know that friends and family are currently online and talking to each other. For Facebook, the problem is the illicit use of the online status and not that you cannot prevent third parties from collecting this information.

What can you do?

The only alternative, for the time being, is not to use WhatsApp. You should consider alternatives for personal use like Signal. If you are a company and you’re using a WhatsApp-Channel look for alternatives like this.

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