WhatsApp has done an amazing job of taking over the cross platform messaging market. They did it by making the whole process of setting up the app and getting your friends on it drop dead simple. They just use your phone number as your identity and your address book to find your friends on the service. We have covered a few of the privacy and security issues inherent in WhatsApp system before but now another one has come to light from the Metro UK news (via CrackBerry).
I alluded to this in the title but one WhatsApp user noticed a friend appear active on WhatsApp… 2 years after he had passed away. This reveals a simple flaw in the WhatsApp system inherent in how easy it is to use. Since WhatsApp relies on phone numbers to identify users instead of usernames and passwords they have no way to identify your friend versus the next person who is assigned that number. This could be the case if your friend simply changed carriers or sadly passes on.
In other words your WhatsApp friends list is as up to date as your address book. This is no different than text messages but I would advise not sending anything private over a system that offers the equivalent privacy controls of a postcard. In this case WhatsApp recommended that:
‘To avoid any confusion, I suggest that you delete this old mobile phone number from your address book.’
On a similar note Triniberry has done a decent job of comparing BBM features to WhatsApp, Viber, and Skype. I did notice that they mistakenly put voice on there when it is not cross platform but otherwise it seems to be correct.