WhatsApp is informing users through an in-app notification which streamlined the changes in a very clear term. The new policy includes, “more information about WhatsApp’s service and how we process your data, how businesses can use Facebook hosted services to store and manage their WhatsApp chats, and how we partner with Facebook to offer integrations across the Facebook Company Products.”
Deeper inspection revealed that the updated policy clarified that data collected by WhatsApp, including user phone numbers, “transaction data, service-related information, information on how you interact with others, including your businesses when using our Services, mobile device information, your IP address” and more are subject to be shared with other properties owned and controlled by Facebook.
Shockingly, this is coming from a company that has long preached “respect for your privacy” coding it into its DNA and made end-to-end encryption standard across all chats as of 2016.
That said, one could read the change in policy as a move toward greater openness — WhatsApp may have already been collecting and sharing all that data, before deciding to define the scope of the data involved in this most recent update. If that’s the case, a push for greater clarity has led mainly to more consternation.
That’s thanks in large part to the way WhatsApp is handling this situation compared to similar instances in the past. For example, the service announced in 2016 that it would start to share user data with Facebook for better ad targeting, but gave users the option of at least partially opting out of the data sharing.
WhatsApp spokesperson told PCMag, that — functionally speaking — very little would change for existing WhatsApp users, and that people who previously opted out of data sharing with Facebook back in 2016 will remain opted out, even upon acceptance of the new terms.
Facebook also claimed that the change is primarily focused on changing the way businesses interact with their customers on the platform. Meanwhile, Niamh Sweeney, WhatsApp director for policy for EMEA, noted on Twitter that users in Europe won’t have to worry about their data being shared with Facebook, at least for ads.
Most people are already deleting their WhatApp for Signal and Telegram alternatives with Elon Musk endorsing messaging app Signal, which is reportedly experiencing delays in issuing verification codes“because so many people” are trying to join right now.