In 2014, Facebook acquired popular mobile messaging app WhatsApp. At the time, WhatsApp – known for their firm stance on user security and privacy – assured their users that nothing would change and the company would continue to operate as a separate entity to their new parent company.
However many speculated that it was only a matter of time before the pair started sharing data with each other, and that time has apparently come.
When it comes to personal information you don’t really want being shared between different companies, your phone number is going to rank pretty high.
So what can WhatsApp users expect? Providing they don’t opt-out, users can expect Facebook to try and use the data is gathers from WhatsApp to try and identify you on their website and use the WhatsApp data to offer “friend suggestions” and more targeted adverts (FYI while adblock users may not see those adverts, it doesn’t mean their information isn’t being shared.)
For example, if you’ve given your phone number to both WhatsApp and Facebook, then straight away Facebook will know who you are on their site. This means they can offer friend suggestions to you based on your WhatsApp contact book if they find phone number matches on Facebook.
They can also use information from your device (location, operating system, model, mobile carrier code) to offer more targeted adverts at you.
Perhaps the only good (or at least NOT bad) news here is that Facebook (and their “family of companies”) don’t share information outside of their network. They only use it to help businesses target potential customers based on demographics and existing customer lists belonging to businesses, so worry not about random third party companies getting their grubby hands on your phone number to make… for example… marketing cold calls. It doesn’t work like that.
It’s also worth noting that WhatsApp provide end-to-end encryption (much to the distaste of governments and spy agencies everywhere) meaning the content of your messages CANNOT be used or shared, since neither WhatsApp nor Facebook will have access to them. So at least there’s that.
It’s a shame though that the (practically) inevitable has occurred. There is a partial opt-out though which prevents you seeing targeted adverts on Facebook based on your WhatsApp data, though doesn’t prevent your information being shared between the pair. If you’re yet to agree to the new T+Cs, when prompted, tap to read the full version, scroll to the bottom and untick the data sharing tick box.
If you already have agreed, head to your WhatsApp settings and select Account and you can uncheck the sharing data option there.
A full opt-out of data sharing however, is not available. Not unless you stop using the mobile messaging service altogether.
What do you think? Let us know below.