With over 2 billion active users worldwide, WhatsApp is undoubtedly one of the most popular instant messaging applications. Always in search of innovation, the platform now plans to replace your phone number with a nickname, in order to facilitate and further secure exchanges between users.
A new feature to protect your privacy
Indeed, using the phone number as the primary identifier on WhatsApp has raised some privacy and security concerns. To remedy this, the application plans to give its users the possibility of choosing a unique nickname which will allow them to be identified during conversations and calls.
How will this new feature work?
According to the information available, users will be able to select their own nickname, which must be different from that already used by other people on the platform. This nickname will then be visible to all your contacts and will advantageously replace your telephone number.
This new feature would be rolled out gradually for WhatsApp users, with an initial test phase with a restricted group before being extended to all subscribers.
Adding new contacts made easy
The introduction of nicknames should also simplify the addition of new contacts. Instead of sharing your phone number, you can simply share your nickname with the people you want to add to your contacts. This way, you can keep a certain distance from people you don’t know well yet and avoid unwanted calls or spam.
A way to avoid abusive data collection
This feature will also help to combat the abusive collection of personal data by malicious companies or individuals. Indeed, by using a nickname rather than your telephone number, you reduce the risk of seeing your personal information used for advertising or fraudulent purposes.
What impact on the user experience?
By allowing WhatsApp users to choose a nickname, the platform provides a more personalized and secure experience. Here are some of the potential benefits:
- Anonymity preserved: by choosing a nickname, you can decide to remain anonymous vis-à-vis certain contacts or groups.
- Enhanced security: by not disclosing your telephone number, you limit the risk of harassment or fraud.
- Ease of use : it is often easier to remember a nickname than a phone number, especially if it is original or adapted to your personality.
- Simplified contact management: adding new contacts is done in the blink of an eye, without having to exchange phone details.
However, some questions remain unanswered regarding the implementation of this functionality. For example :
- How to avoid identity theft or offensive nicknames?
- Will users be forced to switch to the nickname system or can they continue to use their phone number as an identifier?
- How to guarantee the uniqueness of nicknames among billions of WhatsApp users?
- What will be the procedures for changing your nickname if necessary?
It is therefore still too early to say with certainty that this feature will be fully adopted and satisfactory for all WhatsApp users.
A trend that fits into the current digital landscape
Using nicknames instead of phone numbers is not a new idea in the world of online communication. Other instant messaging platforms such as Telegram or Signal already offer similar systems, allowing their users to preserve their anonymity and more easily control their online image.
Thus, with this new feature, WhatsApp seems to follow the current trend while seeking to improve and secure the experience of its users. It remains to be seen how the platform will manage to set up this system in an efficient and equitable way for all.