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is whatsapp safe for sending private photos

WhatsApp is the world’s leading messaging app, trusted by billions of people around the globe to send and receive messages. However, is WhatsApp safe for sending private photos? Or are there better ways to share photos online privately? Let’s find out.

Is WhatsApp safe from hackers?

WhatsApp has set up its privacy protocols to protect it from outside attackers who might try to intercept your messages or steal your private data and pictures. It uses end-to-end encryption, which encrypts your messages on your device until they arrive on your recipient’s phone.

End-to-end encryption is a powerful tool — we use it ourselves in all Proton apps. WhatsApp uses the open-source Signal protocol(new window), which is used by many other messaging apps and has been found to be secure in numerous(new window) studies(new window). At first glance, WhatsApp should be safe for sending private pictures. However, encryption isn’t the whole story.

WhatsApp and privacy

End-to-end encryption protects the contents of your messages, be they a private photo or quick text, so that no one, not even WhatsApp, can see them. However, when you send a message, you generate all sorts of data beyond just the content of your texts, such as the information necessary to deliver the message.

Called metadata, this information includes the device you’re using to send the message, which account it’s going to, when you were last online, and more potentially revealing data points (more details here(new window)). These logs are necessary to ensure a message is correctly delivered, and they help WhatsApp analyze traffic and see potential issues. The problem lies with whom it’s shared.

Parental issues

WhatsApp may have started as a small, standalone company, but in 2016 it was bought by Facebook (now Meta). As a result, WhatsApp shares your messages’  metadata with its parent company, something we cover in detail in our article on WhatsApp’s privacy policy.

The short version is that Facebook uses much of your WhatsApp activity — though not your messages themselves — to target you with ads. The company also knows who you send messages to and when, which is pretty scary considering that nobody at Facebook seems to know what they’re doing with all that data.

So, while your private photos may be safe, WhatsApp and, by extension, all Meta organizations know you sent something, when you sent it, and who you sent it to. If this doesn’t sit easy with you, there are ways to share private videos and photos that bypass such intrusive companies.

Sharing private photos using Proton Drive

If you’re worried about the privacy of your messages, you should probably replace WhatsApp with a privacy-friendly alternative like Signal or Threema. These apps use the same end-to-end encryption but don’t share your metadata with Big Tech. However, when it comes to sending private photos, there’s an even better way than messaging apps.

To make sure you can send private photos and videos and keep them private, we developed Proton Drive, a secure cloud storage service that uses end-to-end encryption for everything you upload and only collects anonymized user data. This is used purely to analyze network activity and make sure you have the best experience possible.

And unlike most of our competitors, Proton doesn’t sell any data to third parties or show ads. We are entirely funded by you, our community. 

This allows us to put your and your privacy first and develop features that secure your data, such as secure link sharing. If you send a private photo through Proton Drive, you control who can see it. Not only is the link encrypted, but you can also set a password, set an expiration date, or turn sharing off with a single click.

If you’d like to try out our secure photo storage and see for yourself how it compares to WhatsApp and its data collection practices, create a Proton Drive account today. Your first 5 GB is free.

Keep your files private, share them securely
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