Whatsapp from Sharing

When Facebook bought WhatsApp for $16 billion back in 2014 its founder Jan Koum promised users that their data would be protected. “We don’t know your birthday,” he said at the time. “We don’t know your home address. None of that data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and we really have no plans to change that.”

But it was inevitable that the two services would begin sharing some of your personal data. Now, that inevitability is finally coming to pass.. WhatsApp has announced in a blog post that he has updated its terms and conditions, as well as its privacy policy. Part of this update includes WhatsApp sharing your account information with Facebook to among other things, provide better targeted ads.

Whatsapp from Sharing

What information is being shared with Facebook?

The updated WhatsApp FAQ page says that the phone number you used to sign up for WhatsApp with will be shared, as well as the last time you used the service.

Thanks to end-to-end encryption, Facebook will not be able to see your messages, photos or other media you share. Only you and the person you send messages to will ever be able to see that information. And any information that is shared by WhatsApp will not be publicly visible to anyone using Facebook. Meaning, if WhatsApp shares your phone number with Facebook, it won’t fill in the phone number field on your profile and make it visible to anyone.

Why is your information being shared?

The FAQ page says sharing your information with Facebook will help the two companies “coordinate more.” The claim is that it will help them “fight spam and abuse” more efficiently, as well as — and this is likely the bigger and more feasible reason — “improve your experiences within [Facebook] services” through targeted ads.

They say having your number will help them deliver product suggestions from companies “you already work with” versus one you’re not familiar with. How your phone number makes this possible isn’t exactly clear.

Will I start seeing ads in WhatsApp?

No. Well, at least not in the conventional banner ad style. However, WhatsApp is exploring ways to allow businesses to communicate with customers. In the same way that you can interact with your bank via SMS to check account balances or pay your cell phone bill with a text message, WhatsApp wants you to receive information from business, such as receipts for flight information.

Facebook is already experimenting with bringing brands and users together via chat with its Messenger bots.

The good news is, WhatsApp is (for now) continuing to put you in control. It says, “We do not want you to have a spammy experience; as with all of your messages, you can manage these communications, and we will honor the choices you make.”

Time will tell if being part of Facebook will alter their stance on this, as well.

Stop WhatsApp from sharing your info with Facebook

If you already accepted the policy without reading it, no worries. Head over to Settings > Account > Share my account info and uncheck the box. This will only work for 30 days after you accept the new privacy policy, so make sure to opt out quickly before the option goes away.Whatsapp from sharing 1

The pop-up that appears reads, “If you tap ‘Don’t Share’, you won’t be able to change this in the future.” And they mean it. After you follow through with this action, the option will no longer be visible from the Account section of Settings and there is no turning back.

On the bright side, your account information and app usage won’t be shared with Facebook anymore. Though, it doesn’t say whether it has already shared your information or whether, if shared, that information will be redacted.

Privacy shouldn’t be a concern with this updated policy, as WhatsApp’s encryption remains strong, and Facebook will not request (or even have the ability to look at) your messages, photos or account information.

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