The founder of Telegram, Pavel Durov, has said that users of popular messaging app, WhatsApp, should delete the app from their phones to prevent their messages and photos from being leaked. A recent vulnerability in the messaging app was discovered, with WhatsApp urging users to update their apps to the latest version to fix the issue.
Previously, a video from India reportedly allowed hackers to access users’ messages if the video was opened from the app, with the Facebook-owned company saying that the latest version of WhatsApp has patched this vulnerability. At the time, WhatsApp said that it had “no reason” to believe that users’ phones were affected, although the company acknowledged the issue.
And the Telegram founder has drawn attention to WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook’s alleged links with surveillance programs on his Telegram channel that has 335,000 followers.
“Facebook has long been part of surveillance programs, long before it acquired WhatsApp.”
“Unless you are cool with all of your photos and messages becoming public one day, you should delete WhatsApp from your phone.”
When WhatsApp was sold to Facebook, its original founder, Brian Acton, said that he “sold [his] users’ privacy to a larger benefit”, with initial worries mainly revolving around the monetisation of the messaging app with ads. And Durov says that the data leaked from such backdoors—just like the recent Pegasus breach—will end up being shared by American agencies with governments from other countries.
Facebook, of course, has been the subject of scrutiny for its data-related practises. And WhatsApp has admitted that spyware has been installed on phones via its software in the past—although that may also be down to gaps in a smartphone’s operating system.
“Just like the previous WhatsApp backdoor had been used against human rights activists and journalists … the data obtained as a result of the exploitation of such WhatsApp backdoors will now be shared with other countries by U.S. agencies.”
But it’s worth noting that Facebook has argued that it’s unlikely that videos have been compromised, with most videos already stored in Google or Apple cloud servers. And given that Telegram is a direct rival to WhatsApp in the app space, perhaps there’s extra incentive here for its founder to go after WhatsApp in the public.
For now, it’s highly-advisable to update your WhatsApp apps to the latest version, or to use another messaging app in the meantime.