If you are one of those you rely on WhatsApp to stay in touch with your family, friends and colleagues, then it is really important for you to know that the service provided allows your contacts to know the exact time you are available to chat, and whether you have read their text or not. This is, however, not all, Lifehacker has currently spotted Chatwatch (an application in the iOS store) that allows anyone with your contact number to view the WhatsApp public online or offline status features, the number of time you check WhatsApp, along with an estimate on the time that you are going to bed daily.
It can even correlate data on two contacts that one can choose to guess, and check if they are talking to one another. (This feature actually creeps me out, come on! What happened to people’s to privacy) I personally keep quite a low profile on messaging apps, so that I can respond and chat as per my time and convenience, hence it is really alarming for me to know that my contacts will be able to keep an eye on me, that too in this way.
The first feature, which is revealing how often one comes online and checks messages on WhatsApp sees quite believable. We experimented with a few smartphones, and we can easily find out if a WhatsApp user is available online or not, just by opening their chat box (no messages need to be exchanged for this particular feature to work). Hence, it might be possible that Chatwatch’s system might be automatically checking on the users and aggregating data so as to deliver insights.
I will personally feel great when WhatsApp disable this particular function, so we can maintain our privacy. However, for now, all you can do is hope that your contacts are unwilling to shell out $2 which is the minimum subscription fee, for two weeks only, allowing them to keep an eye on you.
Update (9:16 PM PT/ 9:45 AM IST): Chatwatch’s app is no longer available on the App Store. On its site, Chatwatch noted that it is not aware of the reason behind its app being removed from the App Store by Apple:
“For reasons unknown to us, Apple has suspended our app from the app store. We are working on a web version to launch tomorrow the latest, and appealing the decision with Apple.”