Young Nigerians react to blockade by WhatsApp, Blackberry
• Platform rolls out new security features
As millions of Nigerians, who connect with their business associates, loved ones and family members through WhatsApp on some mobile phone operating systems have been blocked formally, there are indications that this may affect pace of Internet users in the country.
The news of WhatsApp blockade is also coming at a time Facebook is dropping support for BlackBerry’s mobile operating systems, which will force BlackBerry owners to use the social network’s mobile website if they’d like to access it on the go.
BlackBerry’s Senior Marketing Manager for developer relations, Lou Gazzola, said: “We are extremely disappointed in their decision, as we know so many users love these apps. We fought back to work with WhatsApp and Facebook to change their minds, but at this time, their decision stands,” wrote Gazzola.
“Despite this, we have worked hard to ensure that our end-users have the best experience in light of this decision, and we are continuing to search for alternate solutions.”
A report by techweez.com, informed that 45 per cent, about 49.4 million Internet users in Nigeria explore the services of WhatsApp.
Checks by The Guardian showed that there is evidence that existing users are increasingly concerned about privacy and security issues worldwide, and this may start to spill over to new users, who might become more reluctant to go online.
The affected mobile phones by WhatsApp blockade include BlackBerry, Nokia S40, Nokia Symbian S60, the operating systems are Android 2.1 and 2.2; Windows Phone 7 and iPhone 3GS/iOS 6.
The platform, which made the announcement late last year, actually planned the blockade by December 31, 2016, but said it will complete the process by June 30, 2017.
Reacting to the development, Emeka Eze, said though he is attracted to the Blackberry brand for many reasons, “I don’t really like the fact that WhatsApp is leaving Blackberry.”
He explained that with a cheap subscription fee, he can browse easily every month on the device unlike other phone brands that will cost more.
To a Microbiology student of the University of Lagos, Kemi Adebanjo, she will rather spend her money on improving her education, rather than waste money buying new mobile phones that claims compatibility.
But to Olakunle Adigun, who runs an SME firm, and uses Blackberry Classic to get some businesses done, he said the WhatsApp platform has really helped in promoting its business, “so I am moving up. I am going to get another smartphone; it could be iPhone7 just to keep the business running.
Meanwhile, WhatsApp at the weekend rolled out a two-step verification process for all devices to enhance the security of users’ accounts.
WhatsApp has been working on two-step verification for the past several months.
“When you have the feature enabled, any attempt to verify your phone number on WhatsApp must be accompanied by the six-digit passcode that you choose,” WhatsApp said in a statement.
Users can activate the two-step verification process by going into ‘Settings’ and then tapping the ‘Account’ where they can enable ‘Two-step verification’.
The new feature will be available to all 1.2 billion WhatsApp users across iPhone, Android and Windows.
But announcing the blockade on its blog, WhatsApp claimed that the affected platforms don’t offer the kind of capabilities “we need to expand our app’s features in the future. If you use one of these affected mobile devices, we recommend upgrading to a newer Android running OS 2.3+, a Windows Phone 8+, or an iPhone running IOS 7+ to continue using WhatsApp.
“Once you have one of these devices, simply install WhatsApp and verify your phone number on the new device to continue using WhatsApp. Keep in mind that WhatsApp can only be activated with one phone number on one device at a time.
“There is currently no option to transfer your chat history between platforms. However, we provide the option to send your chat history attached to an email.”