Data Privacy — Bandwagon effect

By the end of 2020, there were approximately 3.5 billion smartphone users worldwide (Source: Statista). The average smartphone user has 40 apps installed on the mobile phone; however, on average, only 10 apps per day and 30 apps per month are actively used (Source: TechJury, Simform).

When Facebook updated its privacy policy for WhatsApp messenger with a binary choice of accepting or deleting, smartphone users switched to Signal or Telegram or both, whose app downloads have skyrocketed. According to the Sensor Tower data, between January 6th to January 10th, Signal messenger app installs reached close to 7.5 million globally, while Telegram app had 5.6 million installs during the same period. Compared to 300 million DAU (Daily Active Users) that WhatsApp has, the combined spike in Signal and Telegram installs is less than 5% (Source: Mobile Industry Review).

Photo by Elisa Stone on Unsplash — Migration / Bandwagon effect

A spike in the install of substitute apps for WhatsApp can be attributed to the bandwagon effect, where individuals adopt the behavior everyone else is doing as the majority can’t decipher the long and winding and constantly evolving privacy policies. When the apps are free, people tend to multi-home, where they use multiple apps, substituting a single app for the same purpose. This is just for one app, but imagine having to go through this for the 10 apps that one actively uses per day or 30 apps per month during the app lifetime. There needs to be a better way to achieve personalized privacy management. But personalized privacy management solutions alone can’t solve this problem as it’s just looking at the surface level. Instead, it should be at the data ownership level with implicit privacy.