Home News WhatsApp’s privacy policy: Might be no way to keep info out of Facebook

WhatsApp’s privacy policy: Might be no way to keep info out of Facebook

8 min read

WhatsApp, WhatsApp privacy policy, WhatsApp Facebook sharing, WhatsApp Facebook information sharing, WhatsApp information Facebook, WhatsApp Facebook, WhatsApp Facebook ads

WhatsApp’s privacy policy has changed, and it is generating serious interest on account of one big update: The data-sharing with Facebook. Now, WhatsApp assures it is not going for third-party banner ads or start sharing your private messages onto Facebook or force you to open a Facebook account if you don’t have one, but there are bits where the privacy policy is not clear and thus worrying.

For instance, on Facebook information sharing, WhatsApp says users have the option of opting out. In case you accept the new terms and conditions without reading them fully, you can still go to Settings > Account > Share my account info in the app, and disallow the Facebook information sharing option. Users have an additional 30 days to make this choice by going to the relevant settings page.

On the relevant Settings page it says this, “Share my WhatsApp account information with Facebook to improve my Facebook ads and products experiences. Your chats and phones number will not be shared onto Facebook regardless of this setting.” So yes, while account information will be shared with Facebook, you won’t find your mobile number posted onto the social media website. However, just below there’s aLearn More link and when you click on it, a user is taken to this paragraph.

This what it say, “…The Facebook family of companies will still receive and use this information for other purposes such as improving infrastructure and delivery systems, understanding how our services or theirs are used, securing systems, and fighting spam, abuse, or infringement activities.

So even if you choose to not share your WhatsApp information with Facebook, there will still be some sharing of information. This WhatsApp says is to help fight spam, abuse, etc. WhatsApp hasn’t specified what this particular information-sharing will consist of, even in cases where one opts out in the app’s settings.

However, the privacy policy has some details on what information WhatsApp is collecting. This includes the mobile number used to create a WhatsApp account, undelivered messages which may be stored on WhatsApp’s servers for 30 days (after which they are deleted), connections, which includes favourites list, groups, broadcast lists, usage and log information, transactional information, device and connection information, status information, etc. Presumably, all of this information will be shared with Facebook.

Interestingly, on Messages, WhatsApp’s privacy policy says this, “To improve performance and deliver media messages more efficiently, such as when many people are sharing a popular photo or video, we may retain that content on our servers for a longer period of time.” This is immediately followed by the bit on how the app has “end-to-end encryption” as a default setting. Again the lines above create some confusion on what WhatsApp exactly means by this, because if the app is end-to-end encrypted, then how are they retaining content on their servers.

On the Facebook affiliation this what the paragraph reads,

We joined the Facebook family of companies in 2014. As part of the Facebook family of companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, this family of companies. We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings. This includes helping improve infrastructure and delivery systems, understanding how our Services or theirs are used, securing systems, and fighting spam, abuse, or infringement activities. Facebook and the other companies in the Facebook family also may use information from us to improve your experiences within their services such as making product suggestions (for example, of friends or connections, or of interesting content) and showing relevant offers and ads. However, your WhatsApp messages will not be shared onto Facebook for others to see. In fact, Facebook will not use your WhatsApp messages for any purpose other than to assist us in operating and providing our Services.  

Also read: WhatsApp and Facebook to share information: Here’s how you can opt out

The last bit, which we have highlighted is again interesting because WhatsApp Messages are end-to-end encrypted now for everyone who has updated the app, which would mean most of the 1 billion users. So it means neither WhatsApp or Facebook can technically read the message.

For a lot of WhatsApp users, the change in terms of services might not appear as a big deal, simply because they have a Facebook account as well. However, for those don’t use Facebook, the new terms might be worrying.


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