This Women’s Day, eScan, one of the leading Anti-Virus and Content Security Solution providers, alerts women IT users to think before sharing their Mobile number
In this digital era, we have very popular cross-mobile messaging platform WhatsApp that has over 700 million people who now use it each month world-wide and its users send more than 30 billion messages per day. Even after Facebook acquisition, this mobile messaging service continues and is bigger than Twitter’s 284 million user base, Instagram that has around 300 million users and Facebook itself. This popularity has given rise to various promotionally activities mainly targeting WhatsApp users. The WhatsApp Bulk Marketing service promises to send out mass WhatsApp text/image messages to hundreds of thousands of users who use the app. As this service is considered as a popular platform that allows users to communicate with one another, more and more companies are opting for this service to reach to their target audience. But an important question to ask here should be – Is WhatsApp selling its users data?
Apparently, in an interview, Jan Koum, who co-founded WhatsApp with Brian Acton said that the messaging service collects very little data of its users. This free app does not ask for user’s e-mail address and does not even require a real sign up. The other things WhatsApp won’t collect are: home address, GPS location, your likes and search history. Moreover, he even added by saying that none of the user data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and that they really have no plans to collect and store user’s data. WhatsApp has even added encryption for messages sent amongst its millions of users in order to prevent messages from being hacked or monitored. If WhatsApp itself is not collecting and selling its users data then – from where are these companies getting the database (mobile numbers) of millions of WhatsApp users?
Let us consider events on which we give our number;
- We overshare our mobile number:
Anytime we fill a form, not many of us really hesitate to give out our mobile number-whether it’s a lucky draw, a signup form, contest entry, a warranty registration, or for social networking profile. Many of us also mention our phone number in the email signature. In such situations, there is always a chance that our mobile number can end up in someone else’s hands.
- Sharing mobile number on dating sites:
IT users sign up on dating and Romance sites and easily provide their mobile numbers. At times, many of us get emotionally carried away and share other details as well on such sites.
- Social media sites:
Social networking sites display phone number and e-mail address of users. This is another way how companies get our mobile number. Sometime back, Facebook admitted that 6 million of its members’ phone numbers and email addresses were accidentally leaked for a period of about a year. However, Facebook blamed the leaks on a technical glitch.
- Product warranty cards:
When a user register online for a new product that he/she wishes to purchase, the user needs to provide contact number, names, addresses and e-mails, which can be later sold to marketers and data brokers.
eScan suggests users what they can do to minimize this leakage of their mobile phone number.
- Never be in a hurry to disclose your phone number. Ask yourself if it is really required for you to give your number. Maybe your-email address is enough.
- Be careful when you register for contests and lucky draws. Read the fine print or contest terms closely that will specify whether the contest operators will sell your data to other companies.
- Be cautious when registering at websites. Ask yourself if the website registration really require your phone number.
As they say, our security is in our hands!