WhatsApp goes on the defensive to avert further damage
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After a veritable shitstorm from WhatsApp and Facebook users, the company now wants to avoid further damage by transparently addressing rumours about the new terms of service.
WhatsApp caused an uproar among users a few days ago with the announcement of new terms and conditions that are to apply from February 8th. As such, in a new support article, the company continues to assure users that WhatsApp cannot read or listen to private messages or calls. The familiar end-to-end encryption takes effect as usual to protect your messages.
They want to make it clear that the new terms of service should have no impact on users' privacy when talking to friends or family. However, WhatsApp says that this may be different for conversations with businesses.
WhatsApp sees the need for clarification: answers to key questions
In the company's attempt to answer users' key questions, WhatsApp goes on to write that private groups will also continue to be protected. According to WhatsApp, the necessary data is used exclusively for the transmission of messages and to protect against spam or abuse. If desired, users can also add an expiration date to their messages so that they are automatically deleted.
Furthermore, it doesn't collect information about who you call or text. The company emphasizes here that they are ahead of traditional mobile operators, for example, which store such data. According to the article, neither WhatsApp nor Facebook are able to view the location that may have been shared with friends. If one allows the app to access the address book, the data collected in the process is not shared with Facebook.
Last but not least, those who want to know exactly what data WhatsApp has collected can request a download of this information.
WhatsApp Business: messages can be used for advertising
While communication in private conversations takes place between the devices of the users, this can be different in a business chat. On the company side, a cloud application from Facebook can potentially be used to make the messages readable. If this is the case, the conversations will be marked accordingly.
With such communication, the content can also be used for marketing purposes. This may mean displaying appropriate advertisements on Facebook or Instagram. In addition, Facebook's own stores can be customized to an individual user by using this information. However, such features are optional, according to the company.
No data transfer between WhatsApp and Facebook in the EU
To what extent the described business rules also apply to users in the EU, is unfortunately not clear from the article. The outcry from users already caused spokespeople for the company to contact various media outlets last week to clarify that there will be no changes to WhatsApp's data-sharing practices in the European region (including the UK).