The new terms have outraged privacy conscious users. And rightly so, given the messaging service’s founding commitment to privacy and promise not to compromise this when it was bought by Facebook two years ago.
So, 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.
- WhatsApp can now share data including your phone number with Facebook, letting it better target adverts and improve friend suggestions
- Facebook and WhatsApp will be able to link accounts using technology that tells them when a phone has installed both
- It will also gain data such as device type and software information, although it says messages will continue to be encrypted
- The new policy also reflects recent changes to WhatsApp such as voice calls and its web version
How to stop WhatsApp from sharing your info with Facebook
Fortunately, you can opt out and remove yourself from the data sharing fairly easily. Here’s how:
- Open WhatsApp on your phone.
- On Android, tap the action overflow button in the upper right corner and select Settings. On iOS, tap the Settings tab in the lower right corner.
- Select Account.
- Tap the check mark to the right of Share my account info.
- To disable the feature, tap Don’t Share.
The pop-up that appears reads, “If you tap ‘Don’t Share’, you won’t be able to change this in the future.” And that very much is the case – after you follow through with this action, the option will no longer be available from the Account section of Settings and there is no way back.
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