Stiftung Warentest: These three WhatsApp settings should be changed

Stiftung Warentest: These three WhatsApp settings should be changed

Stiftung Warentest took a closer look at the WhatsApp Messenger and recommends changing three settings. We have checked the recommendations and estimate how useful the suggestions really are.

Stiftung Warentest: These settings should be changed on WhatsApp

At Stiftung Warentest, they have pre-buttoned the WhatsApp messenger and give recommendations on how to create a little more privacy. Many users are somewhat careless with the data and information provided via the messenger. Stiftung Warentest is now drawing attention to this and is naming three WhatsApp settings that everyone should change.

Profile picture : When setting up WhatsApp, you not only enter your name, but usually also upload a profile picture of yourself. From this point on, however, this is exactly what anyone who has their own number can see, not just their own contacts. To change that, go to "Account and data protection" in the settings. There you select the item "Profile picture" and have three options: "Everyone", "My contacts" or "Nobody". "Everyone" should definitely not be chosen. The decision should be made between "My Contacts" and "Nobody". If you only have friends among the contacts, then "My contacts" is sufficient. Otherwise you shouldn't share your profile picture with anyone - or even take and upload none at all. Last online: Who should it really matter when you were last online on WhatsApp and used the app? Actually nobody. In fact, anyone can see that if you don't change it. Under settings, account and data protection you will find the point "last online". Set there also from "Everyone" to "My contacts" or "Nobody". We also recommend choosing "Nobody" for this point. Read receipt: When you receive a message, there are three different ticks that send different information to the sender. A gray check mark means that the message has been sent. Two gray check marks mean that the message has arrived. Two blue ticks mean that you have read the message. The latter is not optimal. If you do not want to send a read receipt, go to Settings → "Account" → "Data protection" and opt out of sending a read receipt. This means that no more blue ticks appear at the recipient. We also recommend this option - Disadvantage: You will then no longer receive read receipts yourself.

Stiftung Warentest goes one step further

As a last step, Stiftung Warentest (take a look at Stiftung Warentest) also recommends going into the settings of the smartphone and withdrawing authorizations there. For example, for location or access to storage or photos. We do not recommend that, as WhatsApp loses important functionality. For example, you can then no longer send photos, use the internal camera or share your location. But everyone should change the settings mentioned above.

Our recommendations

In addition to the settings mentioned above, we recommend three further measures for more data protection in / with WhatsApp.

Do not synchronize the address book: Almost everyone uploads all contacts stored in the address book along with the telephone number to the WhatsApp / Facebook server when (re) installing WhatsApp. In terms of data protection law, this is definitely questionable, because not every contact was asked whether he or she agreed. That's why you shouldn't do it. WhatsApp also works well if you reject the corresponding option during installation - you may have to add new contacts to whom you want to write in WhatsApp once. No backups in the cloud: They are convenient, but at least in theory they offer a further target for hackers. In other words: If someone gets access to your Google Drive or your iCloud, this person will also have access to all of your WhatsApp communication stored in the backup. In a separate article we explain how you can manually backup your WhatsApp chat history instead. Use alternatives: Signal and Threema are less dubious alternatives in terms of data protection, Apple iMessage is also considered secure - but only when Apple devices communicate with each other. Whenever it makes sense, you should switch to the alternatives mentioned so that Facebook, as a WhatsApp operator, can collect less metadata. Also important: Telegram is not an alternative.

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