That’s the headline on my newest story, an offbeat piece — an A-hed, in Wall Street Journal parlance — with my colleague Joyu Wang. It went online yesterday and is on today’s front page. (The print headline: “Wariness of WhatsApp Sends Users on a Nostalgia Trip.”)
HONG KONG — WhatsApp users around the world who are worried about the company’s shifting policy on data privacy are flocking to rival messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram.
In Hong Kong, some are choosing an alternative that reminds them of their childhood—before algorithms, Big Tech and viral misinformation.
ICQ was a pioneering, mid-1990s internet messaging service then used on bulky PCs on dial-up. It was a precursor to AOL Instant Messenger, and was last in vogue when the TV show “Friends” was in its prime and PalmPilots were cutting edge.
It’s been modernized over the years, and now is an app for smartphones. Lately it has skyrocketed up Hong Kong’s app charts, with downloads jumping 35-fold in the week ending Jan. 12.