This is a PR nightmare for WhatsApp. 2021 has not been kind to the social media app, and this recent news just made it all a little worse. Not only is it instituting new terms of service to increase monetization of your data and has also been the subject of a cyberattack that risked your data, an existing issue can lead to your WhatsApp photos and videos getting deleted when you switch iPhones.
New WhatsApp Issue
WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, has been in trouble for the past few months. It announced changes to the terms and conditions and basically said users would have to live with it. It lost users with this announcement. Then there was the hack that could lead to having your account suspended without any action on your part.
Now there’s an issue with WhatsApp photos and videos being deleted. People handle their messages in various apps in two different ways: they either delete messages after reading them or keep a long ongoing thread as a message history. It’s great to keep that history, but media you want to keep should be backed up. If you’re an iPhone WhatsApp user, it’s even more important.
While WhatsApp has discussed its end-to-end encryption, the iCloud backups aren’t included in that end-to-end encryption. There is a warning about that in the settings, but we all use apps without thoroughly plowing through all the information.
What makes that even worse was called out by blogger WABetaInfo. “If you want to switch to a new iPhone,” warned the blogger on Twitter, “be careful – you must be sure that there isn’t any issue restoring your chat history. Unfortunately, this is a very common issue, and it has not been fixed yet [for] YEARS.”
The blogger added screencaps to the post of failed attempts to restore a backup. The WhatsApp photos and videos were deleted and replaced by icons. The surprising note Is that this has been a known issue since 2015. This is WhatsApp’s only defense.
There are two solutions. One seems to be quite obvious: save all your photos and videos to your iPhone iCloud on your own, bypassing WhatsApp’s control. I do that with everything I want to keep anyway. I’ve lost too many things in the past. I have my articles in different stages in different apps. I’ll never again lose hours of work – maybe “never” is too strong of a word. I even save all my Facebook posts in a separate app. So saving photos and videos in messaging apps is just normal operating procedure for me.
The other solution is to not use the option for Chat Backup in WhatsApp. It means you could lose your chat history entirely if you lose or damage your phone, but that could happen anyway if you transfer phones. But at least this way you’re not allowing WhatsApp total control of your data.
Of course, there’s a third option. Don’t use WhatsApp. Join the hordes of users who are defecting to Signal or another WhatsApp alternative. You may love WhatsApp, but the hassles and despair of photos and videos being deleted may not be worth it.