WhatsApp is a worldwide known messaging app with billions of users. The Facebook-owned company was founded in 2009 for sending text and voice messages. Through the app, a user is able to send images and videos easily. It is however not advisable to use WhatsApp for communication in organizations. Using WhatsApp in a professional setting is failing to comply with a set of rules known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Failure to comply with GDPR leaves an organization liable for charges up to 4%of your global turnover (Christiansen et al., 2019). There are a myriad of reasons why organizations are advised against using WhatsApp for communication a good example being the security risk imposed
- GDPR and Data Protection
WhatsApp does not ensure that user data is protected. Any organization has a legal responsibility to ensure their client data is protected however using WhatsApp does not ensure this. The major concern is how WhatsApp accesses a user’s contact list after installing the app on to a mobile device. Accessing a company’s contact list exposes all the personal and professional contacts without their permission. Research shows that a security expert, Matt Zweerink managed to easily create a bot exploiting the accessing contact functionality (Papajorgji et al., 2016). The bot is able to access the online or offline status of any WhatsApp user.
2. Whatsapp Prohibits Business Use.
Another reason why companies should avoid using WhatsApp for communication is that WhatsApp also advises businesses against it. In the Terms Of service documentation, WhatsApp clearly states that Users will not use the WhatsApp account or assist others in using the service in ways that involve any non-personal use of the service unless authorized to. This regulation is to cover themselves from any legal suit that may arise from the risk business are exposed to with work-related communications. This is clear evidence that the WhatsApp is not a good channel for official business communication.
3. Unreliability of End To End Encryption.
WhatsApp introduced an end to end encryption to protect users’ messages from being compromised which may not be entirely reliable. A WhatsApp user cannot fully rely on end to end encryption since research has proved that Facebook might me circumventing WhatsApp encryption by using wiretapping. Wiretapping is the monitoring of internet-based communication (Naccache & Sauveron, 2014). This is a good example of how unreliable the encryption is. Backup messages and exported chats are also not encrypted so it’s easy for a person sniffing to be able to access these messages. This is, therefore, an indication that sensitive business information can be exposed at any time despite the end to end encryption.
4. Limited Admin Controls.
WhatsApp has few admin controls features that only control Groups. WhatsApp does not support cooperate admin control features. This would have been a useful functionality on WhatsApp to help organization administrators limit users’ access to the organization’s data. This feature will help monitor employees’ access controls and prevent leakage of important business data ones an employee is terminated. However, WhatsApp does not have this feature hence a good indicator that WhatsApp should not be used for business communication. The moment a business organization starts using WhatsApp for communication then they are at risk of having employees misuse the company data when the employees leave the company.
5. Restricted Members in Groups
WhatsApp groups are only limited to 256 members which inconvenience organizations that have thousands of employees and departments. Business organizations are highly structured with different departments from board members to the sales team, the marketing department among others. All these departments and the entire organization requires a communication channel to enhance coordination. WhatsApp cannot support such a business group with such large numbers since the service limits a group to only 256 users. This is a clear indication that WhatsApp is not meant for business communication rather it’s meant for smaller groups such as a family or a group of friends.
6. Lack of a Control Dashboard
WhatsApp is hard to manage when used for large organizations. The application does not provide a control dashboard for an organization’s administrator to monitor all the activities. The control dashboard would be useful for giving information on who is in which group and how many groups there are. Failing to have this central directory may pose the risk of having former employees, contractors, or customers accessing business information when they should not. This is bad for business since there still will be no means of revoking access to the information since it’s already on their phone.
7. Inability To Revoke Access To Business Information Once It Is On WhatsApp.
WhatsApp data is stored on users’ devices so there is no way to restrict access to business information. Having data stored on a central server is one of the common traits of business organizations so as to control who has access to the available data. However, WhatsApp stores data on an individual’s device hence once the data lands on a particular device there is no possible way of restricting its access. This may put sensitive business data at risk of landing into the wrong hands. This can be proved by one of the terms of service that WhatsApp has: “Please remember that when you delete your account, it does not affect the information other users have relating to you, such as their copy of the messages you sent them.”
8. Loss of Official Data
If a mobile device is stolen then all the official data is lost along with the device. WhatsApp on the other hand does not provide a security layer to prevent data loss or theft. When users use WhatsApp for office work they are at great risk of losing important data. For this reason, WhatsApp is not advocated for use in workplaces. Other applications designed for corporate communications, ensure data is backed up on a server so as to allow future retrieval. WhatsApp however stores messages on a particular device and not on a server. Therefore individuals that may have stolen the mobile device may have access to the official data.
9. No third-party app integrations
WhatsApp cannot be used for organization purposes as it does not allow third-party application integration. Other applications like Slack and Microsoft teams support third-party app integration hence making them suitable for use in an official organization setup. There is no need of adding the third-party app support especially because the application is suited for personal communication but this discounts it from being able to be used for official business communication. For example, integrating an application for project management such as Asana into an organization’s collaboration tool makes work easier. The integration allows the division of the project into tasks and subdivides it among teams for fast task completion.
10. Your WhatsApp account can be terminated at any time
A WhatsApp account can be terminated at any time and if it’s used for businesses it may lead to loss of important data. The service has a legal right to modify, suspend or terminate service for any reason without prior notice at their sole discretion. This may pose a risk for large organizations once its invested time and resources and the service has a business value to the organization once it’s terminated. Termination may lead to losses and result in bad business. For this reason, many organization are advised against using WhatsApp for the business community
WhatsApp despite being a worldwide known communication application it is not suitable for business use due to the risks it poses. An organization that ignores the risks posed may face great losses. Some of the risks are loss of data, termination of accounts without notice among other reasons. It is advised that for official communication organizations should use channels like email. Official data should be backed up regularly on a central server and access to this data should be restricted. Authorize all your business communications and data with a better designed commercial chat application like Troop Messenger, Slack, Flock, Microsoft Teams, Ryver for daily routine communication.