Telegram: the better WhatsApp

In the course of my investigations against Facebook and WhatsApp for the article “Digital Tyranny“, I wanted to install WhatsApp on my laptop to gain some hands-on experience. Alas the Download WhatsApp-page informs, that there is a limitation: “WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Android and Nokia.” smallphones Please note, that WhatsApp Inc. exclusively allows1 the installation of their messenger on that type of computer, which is designed to take the administrator-rights away from its users!

Ambush-tactics as business model

It is worth to read the article of an U.S. marketing-expert about user-permissions on mobile devices, starting with the harsh headline The Insidiousness of Facebook Messenger’s Android Mobile App Permissions. “Insidiousness” derived from the Latin words insidiae for ambush and insidere, to sit upon, lie in wait for – describes a mobile-app as hidden trap. Also keep in mind, that WhatsApp Inc. is property of Facebook Inc..

“The fact that social media and mobile apps are so insidious is nothing new, we all know (or should know) that no app is truly free. “Free” online apps are paid for by the provision of personal data such as name, location, browsing history, etc. In turn, mobile developers and social networks charge advertisers to serve up highly targeted ads to specific groups of people.”

This marketing expert is mistaken only in one point; there is indeed software, which is not only “truly free”, but even has its code-base published for insidiousness-perusal. A good example would be the Pidgin Messenger. Pidgin Logo

Babylonian messaging confusion caused by greed for profits

There is a striking difference between instant messaging and e-mail messaging: people can send and receive e-mails from Google or Yahoo with their Hotmail account or even run their own mail-server. This works, because all e-mail exchange follows the same protocols.

Unfortunately such interoperability could not be established for instant messaging systems. When in the year 2000 the open protocol XMPP was defined, many corporations like IBM and Google implemented the new standard.

But top-dogs like Yahoo and Microsoft feared free and fair competition and adhered to their proprietary solutions. Microsoft later even tried to hijack the Google Talk users by adding XMPP to their software – while keeping their own user-base under lock and key. As a consequence Google introduced their own proprietary solution Hangouts.

WhatsApp was poaching the XMMP-code and – by changing just a few bits – claimed it their “intellectual property”. Smart hackers found the few bits and wrote an adapted plug-in named whatsapp-purple for Pidgin. That’s how WhatsApp came to work well on my Linux notebook. 😎

Parasite.app use mandatory

After some time my account was “blocked”:

user:   255719******
status: fail
reason: blocked

Inquiring, WhatsApp Support gave me this reason:

It appears that you are using an unauthorized application of WhatsApp. Unauthorized applications are not supported; they contain source code which WhatsApp can not guarantee as safe. Your private information is potentially being passed to 3rd parties.

Interesting: WhatsApp for certain reads and modifies all contacts in your phone and insidiously extracts as much information from it as possible. But the same company which creates user-profiles for sale to 3rd parties, claims to protect you against other insidious 3rd parties’ misuse of your data?

WhatsApp’s business-plan can only add-up as long as their free services (the bait) return as much data as possible (the catch). For this reason the company provides its parasitic application exclusively for mobile operating systems, which so generously offer access to all critical data. Its high time, that we users make this insidious WhatsApp share the fate of another dead top-dog  😛 – the MSN Messenger (1999–2005). R.I.P. Separating service and application The easiest way to break-free from WhatsApp’s trap is to replace it with something better: karibu Telegram!

Besides running on mobile devices, Telegram also works on Windows-PCs, Apple-Computers or Linux-Boxes. During each installation you’ll receive an identification number via SMS  – on the same telephone number if you like! As a consequence all messages will appear on all devices.  😀

Just click this icon to install: Telegram_logo One great advantage is, that the user is not forced to use the one and only “authorised” application  😉 – but may opt to separate the Telegram-service from its application. And there are many others:

  1. Open API – Application Programming Interface. Developers can create and build their own apps/tools, it already runs on Pidgin. 😎
  2. Sync across all devices – Telegram can be used even on the PC! If you have a tablet, a phone, a desktop and a laptop, you can have Telegram on all your devices and it will sync perfectly all your messages. So you can thus chat from wherever using your one account on any device you want.
  3. No subscription fees forever. No ads. – The creator of WhatsApp explained in 2012, that WhatsApp prefers to charge a yearly subscription fee, because showing advertisement is much worse:

    “Advertising is […] the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought.”

    Furthermore he warned, that companies showing ads would also “mine” the data of their subscribers for profit:

    Remember, when advertising is involved you the user are the product.”

    Of course that was, before Facebook bought-up WhatsApp for Billions of Dollars. Now Facebook’s investors demand profits. Consequently “Facebook Plans To Put Ads In Messenger“.

  4. Large Group/Chat Size – Though WhatsApp has increased group limits, you may find that 100 limits certain discussions you may want to have with a large crowd. Telegram has a 200 number limit.
  5. Sending Files – WhatsApp doesn’t allow you to send files and documents. You can only send pictures and music and voice notes. Telegram solves this. You have an .apk, a .doc, an .exe, and you want to send it to someone? Telegram steps in. Practically any file – size limit is 1.5GB!
  6. Public Usernames – You can define your own username! Just click on @kukutrust if you like to greet me.
  7. Secret Chats, Encryption and Self-Destructing Messages – Secret chats employ use of end to end encryptions plus self destructing messages. This is good news for people who need extremely secure communication methods for high level secrets such as passwords and the likes. ‘While all Telegram messages are always securely encrypted, messages in Secret Chats use client-client encryption, while ordinary chats use client-server/server-client encryption and are stored securely encrypted on Telegram servers’.
  8. Cloud Storage – With Telegram you store all your messages (and can delete them) in the cloud. You can also have your media stored in the cloud.
  9. Speed – Telegram claims to be the fastest and most reliable messaging app even on slow connections. All Tanzanians tell me, “it’s much faster than WhatsApp”.

What others write:

Does WhatsApp Inc. really play that dirty, that they block links to Telegram?
Blocked telegram link
Breaking News: WhatsApp uncontrolled collects and transmits data, warns study!
Users of WhatsApp need be aware that the popular messaging service collects phone numbers, call duration and other information, according to a network forensic examination by computer scientists at the University of New Haven. They decrypted the WhatsApp client connection to the WhatsApp servers before viewing exchanged messages using a bespoke command-line tool they created.
WhatsApp Network Forensics
Looking at network traffic allowed the boffins to see the types of data the mobile app used to set up a call. This data included WhatsApp phone numbers, WhatsApp phone call establishment metadata and date-time stamps, as well as WhatsApp phone call duration metadata and associated date-time stamps. They also were able to acquire WhatsApp’s phone call voice codec (Opus) and WhatsApp’s relay server IP addresses used during the calls.

Download the entire study WhatsApp Network Forensics, 1.6MB PDF.

Notes:
1. Update 31/07/2015: Additional research has substantiated our claim, that WhatsApp’s business-model is based on taking-over control of any computer connected to their service. Users, who are running a modified Android-system which maintains administrator-rights on their phones, get the following message when installing Whatsapp:

Alert

You have a custom ROM installed. Custom ROMs can cause problems with WhatsApp Messenger and are unsupported by our customer service team.

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