WhatsApp to share users’ data with Facebook after recent Privacy Policy update

Published | Last updated by   Ruheni Mathenge
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WhatsApp to share users’ data with Facebook after recent Privacy Policy update
  • WhatsApp has announced a new privacy policy through which it will share user’s data with Facebook and other companies.
  • Sharing data with its parent company can improve other Facebook services such as friend suggestions, personalizing features, content, etc.
  • But, WhatsApp is taking more than what needs to be taken for better service.

The world’s biggest cross-platform messaging app updates its “Privacy Policy,” and the Facebook-owned VOIP service has started a new controversy. WhatsApp affirms their new privacy policy better explains its data practices, including the data they scrutinize to provide services to users.

On Jan. 4, 2021, WhatsApp LLC revealed that it would share users’ information with its parent company in its latest privacy policy. The messaging app has notified its users. Most of them would probably have received the Privacy update notification by now—depending upon where they live.

This might be unlikable for WhatsApp users due to Facebook’s reputation in collecting users’ data and using it for personal benefits.

As per the company, if you are unwilling to share data with Facebook, you can just uninstall the app. WhatsApp will stop working for any user who disagrees with this new policy update by February 8.

Back in 2014, when Facebook acquired WhatsApp, the company assured to share as little data as possible across its platforms. However, things seem to have changed now, considering the importance of user data in the corporate world. But do things work as they seem to be? Only time will tell.

What will WhatsApp be sharing with Facebook?

WhatsApp’s privacy policy elaborates on the data collection of users and how this affects the users.

Being the most-used messaging app, WhatsApp has around 2 billion monthly active users on its network. This means that the app is about to share 25% of the world’s total population’s data to Facebook. But what kind of data is it?

WhatsApp describes its “Privacy Policy” as a Service Building Act. This means that the information collected is used to improve its services for users. Also, sharing it with companies to have better input for online ads.

The information can include your profile photo, location, demographics, battery status, WiFi-signals, users connected to the router, phone model, browser, time zone, and phone IMEI.

Besides, WhatsApp would collect information that is believed to be more private. Such data includes how you are messaging, calling, and what groups are you part of, last seen, and much more.

In the regions where WhatsApp payment is available, the company will be gathering payment details as well. The company claims that it’s for analytics purposes, although it would pass on the transaction information to Facebook and other companies.

Does that cause any concerns for WhatsApp users?

The primary critique on Facebook has been using users’ information for Third-Party Banner Ads.

Whereas WhatsApp says that it has no intention to allow third-party banner ads on its Services. If the firm ever does so, it will update the users through a new privacy update.

Now, that’s a smart move from WhatsApp; just update the policy now, and in the future, get the third-party banner on the platform.

If sharing users’ data for ads was the only reason, it wouldn’t be such an issue. There are reservations against Facebook that go beyond what it says and collect information that’s pretty private for users.

The problem starts when WhatsApp shares your account information—business account in specific—with Facebook and other companies.

For instance, the company could track other users connected to your router if you are using WhatsApp even though the person connected to your router does not use WhatsApp. Now, that’s alarming if you consider your privacy a significant issue.

As privacy advocates, we at PrivacySavvy consider that user’s personal information is something very private. We believe the companies must not dig that deep to make user privacy that vulnerable.

In recent times, the governments have started to take strict notices against corporate giants for tracking users’ data. However, it wouldn’t make any difference unless some serious privacy reforms happen. The U.S. government is working on new privacy acts—let’s hope that Joe Biden’s government would be the one to fill the void in privacy laws.

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About the author

Ruheni Mathenge
Ruheni Mathenge

Tech researcher and writer with a passion for cybersecurity. Alex is a strong advocate of digital freedom and online privacy.

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