- WhatsApp's new terms of service and privacy go into effect on May 15.
Being one of the largest tech companies in a world where just about everyone has the right of choice, Facebook has to jump through numerous regulatory hoops. After all, the company has 3.5 billion monthly active users across its services - that is the equivalent to nearly half the earth's population. And one of these hugely popular services is WhatsApp.
Because of this, when it was first announced that the instant messenger would begin to share user data with Facebook itself, a heated debate took place in popular media as well as various institutions that continue to battle for the right of user privacy to be within the user's own hands.
What happens if you accept the new changes?
First, it is important to make it clear that WhatsApp conversations will continue to use the end-to-end encryption system. This translates to conversations that remain private, where only you and your contacts will be able to access the content of the exchanged messages.
- Registration Information such as your phone number, name, profile picture, and status.
- IP Address: even if you do not use the location-related features in the app, the service relies on IP. addresses and other data such as phone number and area codes to calculate your general location.
- Device information (battery charge, mobile carrier, carrier signal strength, Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram identifiers that allow you to cross-reference data from the same user across all three platforms).
- Transaction and payment data.
- Reports and performance records.
In addition, the news also places focus on WhatsApp Business:
- Usage and log information: data regarding the use of the Stores feature, such as the types of products viewed or purchased, features used, time and actions performed by you, frequency and duration of your activities and interactions.
- Facebook Payments: a payment service from Facebook.
- Onavo: a web analytics and monitoring service owned by Facebook, which in the past has generated controversy as a rather controversial VPN app.
- CrowdTangle: a social media analytics and monitoring tool.
- Facebook Technologies: Oculus VR.
The terms that go into effect on May 15 will enable these Facebook-linked companies to store, manage and process your WhatsApp data.
According to Facebook, in addition to improvements that are related to service security and infrastructure, there are other points to take note of:
- Enhancement of services and experiences, including suggestions for users (such as content recommendation, group connections, or friends)
- Integration of WhatsApp with other Facebook services such as Facebook Pay
This allows Facebook to develop its own business solution, thus transforming WhatsApp into an interface for payments and customer relations.
What happens if you don't accept the new changes?
- You will not be able to access your conversations but can only receive voice and video calls.
- If you are already receiving WhatsApp notifications, you will be able to tap them to read and reply to messages and to return missed voice and video calls.
- After a few weeks of limited feature usage, you will no longer be able to receive calls nor notifications, and WhatsApp will no longer direct messages and calls to your phone.
- However, the length of the new grace period remains unclear at this moment. We only know that "not all users will get these changes at the same time".
My opinion: I don't agree to share WhatsApp data with Facebook...for now
However, you still don't have to accept any of the changes and share your messenger data with companies linked to Facebook, because there will still be no consequences to deal with even after May 15. At least, this is the promise from WhatsApp itself. My suggestion is, why not wait it out to see just how the company will deal with the issue in the coming weeks, or perhaps months, given that no timeframe has been set so far?
So, if you were already using the instant messenger back in 2016 and did not opt out from exchanging data with Facebook that year, you most likely would have shared such information between the platforms.
In any case, there are different options in the market when it comes to messaging services, of which some are superior to WhatsApp itself. Check some of them out through the link below:
Personally, I will wait for all of the possible scenarios to play out before I decide whether to accept the sharing of my WhatsApp information with Facebook-linked companies. For now, I am curious to know what is your next course of action:
Remember that participation in our polls is anonymous! However, we highly encourage debates and exchange of ideas in the comments section.