Leaving Whatsapp

TL;DR: I’m deleting my Whatsapp account.
You can still reach me via Signal (iOS, Android), phone, SMS/iMessage, E-Mail or on Twitter.

Bye, bye.
Deleting my WhatsApp account

Undoubtfully – it’s a very handy tool. More than 1.5 billion people use it. Free cross-platform messaging, free group chat, free calls, free video calls. This was (and is) game-changing. Revolutionary 10 years ago!

I bought WhatsApp for €0.79 in 2010

Extremely impressive backend technology, written in Erlang. In 2015 WhatsApp had only 50 engineers handling 900M users. That was roughly one year after Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19BN. I honestly admired the team as I know what it means to build a messaging service for millions of users.

Wait. $19BN for a free service?

WhatsApp is Facebooks second biggest property. Facebook is making money with the data for their users – YOUR DATA.

Graph from recode

The price is too high. Your messages, your messaging metadata, your friends, your connections,…
Guess why the WhatsApp Founder Brian Acton left Facebook 2018 – 4 years after the acquisition and left $850M on the table?

“I sold my users’ privacy… I live with that every day”

CNBC Interview with Brian Acton

The tipping point

The encrypted message from the number used by Mohammed bin Salman (Saudi crown prince) is believed to have included a malicious file that infiltrated the phone of the world’s richest man, according to the results of a digital forensic analysis.

The Guardian (January 2020): Jeff Bezos phone got hacked via WhatsApp.

Jeff Bezos got a video message. That video message infiltrated the phone, and the hackers could get access to all content on this phone.

  • messages
  • photos
  • call history
  • location (history)
  • contacts

But wait – you’ve also voluntarly granted these permissions to WhatsApp. Are you sure you trust Facebook?

Privacy comes at a price. I’m willing to pay the price. Even if Billions of users act otherwise and take part in that game.

Becoming Facebook free

This is the logical next step on my journey to become Facebook (the company) free. After deleting my Facebook account I’m now deleting my Whatsapp account. I’ve requested my data, it’s ready today.

You can request your data under Settings -> Account -> Request Account Info

Instagram is next.

I encourage you to do the same. It feels great and will feel great in future.

Politics Privacy

Facebook. The End.

I was thinking about quitting Facebook already for a long time. But I didn’t have the guts to do so. But now I finally quit smoking Facebook.

I did it

Today I saw the Twitter thread (german) about our wonderful Minister of Justice Alma Zadić where Facebook provided the platform to threat her, harass her. It was the last straw that broke the camels back.
I spare you the details, but Business insider compiled a list of some other not so nice things.

I was friends with Facebook for 12.5 years. It was an easy way to connect with everybody (I could even poke people). By reading my timeline once a day I was able to stay up to date and receive all relevant (?) information.

My first two status updates

Digital Minimalism

Following the concept of “Digital Minimalism” by Cal Newport I’m striving to live my digital life according to my values. I only use things that provide a clear value add to me.

It’s also about how much time you spend. 60min of Facebook a day don’t provide 60x the value add of 1min.

Cal Newport recommends to do a “Digital Declutter“. A 30 day period where you avoid all digital activities that are not absolutely necessary.
In this period you start doing more and more other things that you like. That will be hard – because eating cake with your aunt doesn’t provide the same kick as a shot of heroin.
After that you carefully think about what digital tools you’re adding back to your life. What is the right ratio of effort and benefit.

In the case of Facebook it took me more that 30 days.
First I move the App from the Homescreen of my phone to the second page (I think already 2 years ago).
Then I removed the app and used only the browser version.
A couple of month i logged out on all devices (and only logged in a few times).

Now I’m going to delete my account. No I’m not going to suspend it first. Maybe I’ll miss messenger?

Bye bye!

Privacy Weblog

All Beginnings

…are hard.
But if you don’t begin, you’ll never end up somewhere. This the first post on my shiny new blog. huzzah!

I’ll write down what moves me, what I’m thinking about, what I want to share, what I want to remember and what I want to say.


This is also an important step on my move to more privacy, less tracking and towards independence of the dominating privacy-killers Google, Facebook or how you name them. I’m convinced that – apart from climate related issues – privacy is one of the most important topics in the upcoming decade.

Exactly 10 years ago I was living in Berlin and working as CTO of VZ Netzwerke. We were running Europe’s most trafficked websites – the Social Networks StudiVZ, MeinVZ and SchülerVZ with 16M active users.
At this time Facebook started to grow really fast and overtake VZnet which had no chance to compete. Facebook had way more engineering resources, but a main reason for growing faster their disrespect of german/european privacy laws.

Privatsphäre visual notes, by Anna Lena Schiller, February 2010

We did our best to be fully compliant with the privacy laws and spent a lot to educate society about it. It did not help. People didn’t seem to care about it. Not at all.

10 years later we’re at a point where I can feel a change in trend. More and more people are aware that the (mainly) US tech giants like Google and Facebook are building millions and millions of user profiles and abuse them.
I’ve made the decision to avoid feeding them and will carefully think about the online services I use.

Here’s a selection of what I’ve done so far:

  • Switch to Firefox as default browser on all devices. Turn enhanced privacy protection / strict mode on. I strongly suggest you download it and do the first step to protect your privacy now.
  • Using DuckDuckGo as default search engine. It has vastly improved over the last years – and I only rarely need to add !g to my query to fall back to Google search.
  • I’m logged out of Facebook and leave it dormant right now.

I’ll keep using Twitter (even use it more) and also keep somewhat trust that Apple will keep the personal data I store with them safe and private.

Let’s see how it goes with comments – Right now I’m using Nick Grossmans Discuss on Twitter plugin. You can also subscribe via E-Mail on the About page.