It is useless for a Finnish average user to lose their night's sleep, even though the WhatsApp instant messaging service now requires them to accept the new terms of use, says non-fiction writer and IT expert Petteri Järvinen.

Instead, he encourages thinking of alternative communication channels so that communication is not so tightly connected to Facebook, which owns WhatsApp.

- In the long run, everyone should reduce their dependence on Facebook.

That is why there are alternatives, Järvinen tells STT.

Since last week, WhatsApp has also sent messages in English to its Finnish users, according to which the new terms of use must be approved by February 8.

If you do not agree to the terms, WhatsApp will cease to be used.

The changes in Europe do not apply to WhatsApp, which is used by the majority, but only to WhatsApp Business.

However, according to a Facebook spokesman, the new terms require approval from everyone.

- All users must accept the new terms of service if they want to continue using WhatsApp, a Facebook representative will confirm to STT by email.

Lots of open questions

Under the new terms, WhatsApp’s non-European user agrees that his or her user account information will be shared with Facebook and its-owned companies for advertising purposes.

This information includes phone number, phone device and phone operator used, WhatsApp usage activity, and account IP address.

The impact of the change on European users has been less clear and has caused confusion among WhatsApp users.

What rules of the game apply if, for example, you are communicating with an American or participating in a WhatsApp group with participants from several non-European countries?

- This change does not affect WhatsApp's disclosure policy with Facebook or affect how people communicate between their friends and relatives wherever in the world they are, WhatsApp's representative told Ilta-Sanomat Digitoday in an email.

WhatsApp-owned Facebook has been very vague in its communications.

According to the new terms of use, "WhatsApp does not share Whatsapp user information in Europe with Facebook for the purpose of Facebook using this information to develop our products or advertisements."

Among other things, the design leaves open whether the information will be passed on to Facebook for any purpose other than advertising.

And if so, what is this information?

Ilta-Sanomat Digitoday has asked open questions to Facebook and is waiting for an answer.

In 2016, WhatsApp users had the option to block the transfer of their phone number to Facebook.

It is also unclear whether this block will still apply when WhatsApp’s new Terms of Use take effect on February 8th.

  • Read more: Worth doing: This is how you prevent Whatsapp from giving your number to Facebook

There has also been a lot of misunderstanding about WhatsApp news coverage in Europe.

Many European messages have quoted the American media about the change in terms of use.

In the US, the change in WhatsApp's terms of use is more severe than in Europe.

Think about what terms you agree to

Järvinen raises WhatsApp's alternative to, for example, the foundation-based instant messaging service Signal, which he considers to be very reliable and secure.

The use of a competitive alternative also has the advantage that, at least then, Facebook's dominance will not be further strengthened.

  • Read more: This is the Signal instant message recommended by Elon Musk - breaks WhatsApp's position

According to Järvinen, the security of both WhatsApp and Signal is technically in order.

- The most important thing for a normal user is how to use the phone safely.

Data Protection Commissioner Anu Talus also encourages us to consider what other options are available.

In any case, the basic rule is clear.

- You should always think carefully about which terms you agree to accept, which data collection you are allowed to do and to whom you can share them.

If a complaint were made about the changes in Finland or Europe, the countries would deal with it together under the leadership of the Irish Data Protection Supervisor.

In the end, according to Talus, the matter could proceed to a decision of the European Data Protection Board.

The signal is already congested

Since WhatsApp's announcement, Signal, among others, has gained so many new users that sometimes there have been delays in registering new users.

It has since said on Twitter that it has increased its capacity.

  • Read more: Signal as Finland's most downloaded application - is the recent second embarrassing misunderstanding?

In the U.S., federal and state competition officials filed lawsuits against Facebook last December.

Some giants are accused of violating competition laws and abusing their dominant position.

Authorities are working to crack down on WhatsApp and Facebook’s image service Instagram.

Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 and Instagram two years earlier.