WhatsApp Privacy Policy: Agree to Disagree?

Facebook-owned platform, WhatsApp, warned users to agree to the new privacy policy by 8th February or they would lose access to the app completely. But did you know, this new policy doesn’t apply to residents of Europe and the UK, which is being considered a victory for those who enforced GDPR! Should other countries follow the lead? Read on to understand more.

Privacy Policy Updates 

Privacy has always been a core feature of WhatsApp, just as you would expect from any application that transmits personal chats, pictures and locations amongst other personal data across the internet. When Facebook acquired WhatsApp, Mark Zuckerberg clearly stated that “the vision is to keep the service exactly the same” which meant that no kind of information would ever be shared with advertisers or third parties, or in the case, if the data is shared, it would be the absolute bare minimum.  

Things appear to have changed drastically since then. Unless it was always like that, but they are only just taking accountability now? Chats and communications shared between users are still end-to-end encrypted, which means only the sender and receiver can see the data being transmitted. However, certain categories of information will be shared with Facebook to enhance personalised advertisement experiences, a sort of artificial psyche to identify what people really want, their behaviour patterns and other key data that helps businesses well, sell!

What Type of Data is Being Shared?

In a recent post, WhatsApp highlighted what aspects of user data which will now be shared with Facebook. The new information shared with advertisers includes:

  • Account registration information of the user (phone number etc) 
  • Transaction data/ service-related user information
  • Information on how you interact with others (including businesses) when using WhatsApp services
  • IP addresses
  • Mobile device information

What data is NOT being shared? 

Amidst the Twitterati breakdown over the serious privacy concern of its users, WhatsApp clarified what type of data will not be shared. The following data will not be shared with any of Facebook’s companies: 

  • Chats & Communication data (including calls) exchanged between users 
  • Media and Location information
  • User’s contacts 
  • Message and call logs

NOTE: WhatsApp shares chats between business accounts and users with Facebook.

Why is Data Being Shared?

According to Facebook, the sole purpose of sharing WhatsApp user’s data with Facebook companies is for the development of an even better digital advertisement experience for them. Essentially, this helps show personalized ads to the users of both Facebook and WhatsApp based on their interactions online… kinda creepy if youd ask us.

Also mentioned in the new policy is a little disclaimer that WhatsApp will soon be an advertising platform as well… So now even our messaging applications will serve as a way for potential business. Is everything a means of making money and reaching customers?

What’s Next 

With the privacy policy update, most people are concerned about their data being shared and are gradually making the shift to alternative apps to Whatsapp which include Signal and Telegram. 

The features of Signal and Telegram are almost similar to that of WhatsApp featuring better protection of user data. The main difference in terms of usability at the moment between the three remains that Signal does not offer video calling.

The Pied Piper of Signal

PARIS, FRANCE – JANUARY 13 In this photo illustration, the logos of social media applications Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter, Signal and Telegram are displayed on the screen of an iPhone on January 13, 2021, in Paris, France. Since WhatsApp announced a change to its privacy rules, users are moving to other encrypted messaging, 25 million users have joined Telegram secure messaging in the past 72 hours, Russian founder Pavel Durov announced on Tuesday. (Photo Illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images)

Following the update of WhatsApp’s privacy policy, Elon Musk tweeted “Use signal,” after which downloads of Signal increased by over 4200%! Needless to say Elon remains one of the most influential figures on Twitter in terms of technology, finance and related topics. Signal is currently also topping the charts on Apple’s iOs App Store and Google PlayStore. The shift continues to increase!

So, comes time for the main question: Will you be making the shift from WhatsApp?

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