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Mobile phone users stick to WhatsApp amid rising cybercrime

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As mobile phone users in Nigeria, South Africa and other parts of the continent feel increasingly concerned about mobile risks and possible digital identity theft, the situation is not stopping them from using their favourite messaging platforms and applications.

This was revealed in a new research carried out by KnowBe4 among over 700 smartphone users in Nigeria, Mauritius, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Morocco and Botswana.

The KnowBe4 Mobile Users in Africa survey gauged the opinion of Africa’s mobile users on the recent decision by WhatsApp to update its terms and conditions, sharing metadata with the rest of the Facebook group of companies.

The survey found that not only did majority of the respondents across Africa intend to continue using WhatsApp, their favourite alternative is Facebook Messenger.

SVP Content Strategy & Evangelist Africa at KnowBe4, Anna Collard, noted that the recent WhatsApp privacy policy has spurred public discussions, which resulted in more consumer awareness about their privacy rights as well as brought more visibility to alternative tools such as signal and telegram.

“It is interesting to see that while most mobile users are concerned about their online privacy, Facebook Messenger, which was listed as the top alternative chat app, collects much more data than WhatsApp. This indicates that there may be a lack of understanding about the actual risks and implications of the new policy,” Collard said.

The WhatsApp privacy policy change revealed some shifts, with 24 per cent of respondents saying they were no longer allowed to use WhatsApp for work, and 62 per cent saying they were ‘somewhat concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ about the new policy. Around 7.7 per cent of respondents said they had – or planned to – cancel their WhatsApp accounts.

For most phone users, the convenience of the platform outweighs concerns about privacy risks, with over half of the respondents saying they had concerns but would continue using WhatsApp, even though they may have signed up to use other messaging tools.

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