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WhatsApp forces you to share your personal data with Facebook

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WhatsApp updated its terms of use on Wednesday, January 6th, and will now require users to share their personal data with Facebook. If you do not agree, you will simply be unable to use the application anymore. Bummer!

WhatsApp has begun sending notifications to its users that invite them to accept the new terms of use. These new rules and regulations will make it mandatory to share selected data with its parent company, Facebook, and must be accepted by February 8th. Otherwise, you would not be able to make use of this hugely popular worldwide instant messaging platform. 

The application, owned by Facebook since 2014, has been a good student in terms of protecting users' personal data. WhatsApp's sacrosanct end-to-end encryption and public commitment in trumpeting that made all of that a moot point, a thing of the past. For the record, WhatsApp's former privacy policy even began with "Your privacy is in our DNA."

But even that phrase has now disappeared from their site. Things have changed over time and due to the circumstance. The update applies to every country in the world. WhatsApp will now be able to share your data with Facebook-related companies, including your phone number and other contact information, your name, profile picture, status, and various diagnostic data that has been collected in application logs.

Screenshot 20210106 010411 com.whatsapp
WhatsApp'S notification to accept its new terms / © NextPit

WhatsApp and Cost-Effectiveness versus Data Protection

"Information we share with other Facebook entities includes account registration information (such as your phone number), transaction data, information related to (sic) services, information about how you interact with others, including businesses, when you use our Services, information about your mobile device, your IP address," WhatsApp states in its FAQs.

Like Telegram before it, WhatsApp faces the dilemma of cost-effectiveness versus a great user experience. Encrypted conversations and respecting the user's privacy comes at a price. Both WhatsApp and Facebook want us to pay that price indirectly.

With this new update, Facebook can develop a comprehensive offering to further its strategy of transforming WhatsApp into an interface for businesses, managing the advertising aspect of a product (on Facebook or Instagram) while offering advertisers the advantages of using WhatsApp for customer relationship management.

A Facebook spokesperson explained to Ars Technica that this change was supposed to enable companies (with whom one can chat via messaging) to store and manage WhatsApp discussions using the Facebook infrastructure. The spokeswoman assured that there will be no change in the way WhatsApp shares its data with Facebook regarding discussions with other non-business users. However, WhatsApp's new privacy policy does not appear to make that distinction and opens the door for data sharing worldwide.

Certainly, most data-sensitive users will want to look for more privacy-friendly alternatives. But the fact that WhatsApp is pushing this update so aggressively, leaving no option to opt-out of the new provisions already speaks volumes about the value the company places on these concerns.

Would you be moving on from WhatsApp because you treasure your privacy more? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Will this update make you quit WhatsApp for another more 'data friendly' messaging app?
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Antoine Engels

Antoine Engels
Senior Editor

Black belt in specs sheet analysis. OnePlus fanboy in (slow) remission. Average estimated reading time of my articles: 48 minutes. Tech deals fact-checker in my spare time. Hates talking about himself in the 3rd person. Dreams he was a gaming journalist in another life. Doesn't get the concept of irony. Head of editorial for NextPit France.

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  • 49
    storm Jan 8, 2021 Link to comment

    Facebook was clearly headed this way and is one reason why I've no facebook account at all. Their profiteering participation in the provably false narratives of the modern world is another.

    Any bet on the geofence that triggers full harvest of EU protected data when you cross the fence on a trip?