WhatsApp shares your info with Facebook, learn how to stop it
WhatsApp shares your info with Facebook, learn how to stop it. Image credit: Huffington Post

WhatsApp updated its terms and privacy policy for the first time since Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: trueFB) bought the messaging app for $19 billion two years ago.

Under the new user agreement, the app will share the numbers of their customers to Facebook, along with information about what devices and what operative system the users use.

In other words, the company will somehow integrate their data into the digital marketing system. No surprise this change comes right after Facebook presented the Audience Optimization tool to allow publishers identify the interest of Facebook’s subscribers with a simple search.

Not to forget Facebook monetizes its space by giving advertisers the data of its users. WhatsApp original business model, a yearly $1 subscription fee, was discontinued when Facebook took the leadership of the service.

The biggest change in WhatsApp’s history

Previously, no information passed between the two networks, a stance that was more alike WhatsApp’s original policies.

“We have not, we do not, and we will not ever sell your personal information to anyone. Period. End of story,” wrote the company’s CEO Jan Koum in 2009.

Even when Facebook acquired the app in 2014, Koum reassured his posture. “Here’s what will change for you, the users: nothing,” he wrote at the time.

Much of it is still somewhat accurate, as WhatsApp is not selling the information to advertisers, rather giving it for free to fuel Facebook’s advertisement features.

Those with a WhatsApp account but not registered on Facebook will see minor changes. Alas, the updated terms of service permit the app to “explore ways for you to communicate with businesses that matter to you.”

But there is no safe place to hide against such a big enterprise. WhatsApp data pool will go to all “Facebook family or companies,” so, possibly their users’ information may bulk Facebook’s Oculus Rift, Instagram, and any other present and future acquisition.

The data flow with Facebook shows better friend suggestions and more relevant ads to the customer

Their core policy is compromised or at least loosened. Facebook will be able to link users of its services with WhatsApp accounts to enhance the database of any and all of their properties and technologies.

They still promise the app will keep free of ads and spam. More so, the post assures the updated app has full by end-to-end encryption, and no one else can see the messages, including Facebook or other users on the social network.

But that may not be the point regarding the triangulation of over a billion users per system.  The change comes with real concerns about data privacy, and the blur of the boundaries between the two is prone to raise questions of data regulators of the European Commission.

Facebook-whatsapp-terms and privacy policy
WhatsApp users can stop Facebook from getting their personal data for marketing. Image credit: Ads Zone.

Can WhatsApp users do something about it? 

WhatsApp is giving 30 days to use an option to opt-out of having the app’s information used in Facebook’s features. If not, the phone numbers and analytics sharing will be on by default.

First, if the user has not agreed yet the new T&C he can tap to read the full terms and then scroll down to the end, where there’s a check-box option for sharing data with Facebook.

However, if the user already accepted the T&C without unchecking the data sharing box, he may head over to Settings -> Account -> Share my account info and uncheck the box.

Source: WhatsApp blog