Vladimir Putin is an alien: Diplomats use grey ET emoji to describe the Russian leader in their private WhatsApp chats
- Use of emojis in instant messages is common in ambassadorial meetings
- The shaking of hands symbol, for example, represents a successful deal
- Whatsapp is renowned for its end-to-end encryption
There was a time when diplomatic protocols involved an exchange of formal letters and telephone calls – but WhatsApp has changed all that.
Nowadays, those in ambassadorial circles use emojis – the smiley face characters that litter social media – to further enhance their messages when using the app: the shaking of hands symbol, for example, to represent a successful deal.
As for Vladimir Putin, he’s sometimes represented as a grey-faced alien emoji – an interesting choice given that aliens, if they exist, may one day come in peace… or have more sinister plans for mankind.
Perfect for the ambassador’s reception? Emojis are used in high-level circles to enhance messages sent via Whatsapp during meetings – and Vladimir Putin is said to be referenced by an alien
Such usage in international diplomacy is a sign of the times in this digital age, and it is an issue which fascinates author Tom Fletcher, who has written a book on the subject, Naked Diplomacy.
‚The smartphone is now as essential a part of the modern diplomat’s armoury… But it is also a threat to the diplomat – heaven forbid that leaders should start WhatsApping each other direct, without needing to go through their diplomatic envoys,‘ he told The Guardian.
‚When you are sitting around a table, negotiating a document, you are not necessarily going to be sitting next to like-minded countries. This is a way to communicate while the negotiations are under way,‘ a senior diplomat told the paper.
Fletcher, a former British ambassador to Lebanon, said that he had used WhatsApp for much of his daily communication with Lebanese officials – adding that it was the preferred way to quickly contact key ministers.
Nowadays, those in ambassadorial circles use emojis – the smiley face characters that litter social media – to further enhance their messages when using the app: the shaking of hands symbol, for example, to represent a successful deal. Whether or not they use the ones above remains to be seen
WhatsApp is used in Brussels for organising some EU meetings.
An internal report at the UK’s Foreign Office this year found that British diplomats occasionally use the app to discuss sensitive issues.
Renowned for its end-to-end encryption, the instant messaging service is well suited for those who move in high-powered circles.
Also, it works effectively over wi-fi in areas of buildings which may not be conducive to normal text messaging.
WHATSAPP: FAST, SECURE… AND HIGHLY ENCRYPTED
WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger were declared the most secure messaging apps to use, according to a report by Amnesty International in October.
The Amnesty report ranked 11 companies that run the world’s most popular messaging apps, including Skype, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger.
The human rights charity looked at how the firms protect users‘ privacy and their freedom of expression.
WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger were declared the most secure messaging apps to use, according to a report by Amnesty International in October
In particular, the group looked at whether the messaging platforms had end-to-end encryption and whether this is switched on by default.
Messenger and Facebook-owned WhatsApp were considered as one in the results, scoring a joint 73/100, with Apple also ranking high on the scale with 67.
However, while both WhatsApp and Messenger feature end-to-end encryption, only the former applies it by default.
Despite Amnesty’s recommendation, a report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has thrown doubt on how secure the app is.
In particular, the EFF pointed towards WhatsApp’s use of unencrypted back-ups of messages.
This involves private chats being sent to the cloud, without the protection of being encrypted.
The EFF suggests that WhatsApp should simplify its user interface to make it easier to turn on strong privacy setting with one switch.
It also suggested that the firm should clarify exactly what data will be shared between WhatsApp and Facebook and how it will be used.
While they may be used as a rough guide, Amnesty clarified that its rankings ‚should not be seen as an endorsement of any app for journalists, activists, human rights defenders or others at risk‘.
The organisation based its rankings not on testing, but on privacy and security information that it requested from the 11 tech firms.
From those approached, three of the firms – BlackBerry, Google and Tencent – did not respond, says Amnesty.