WhatsApp. The instant messaging service that famously took advantage of both Wi-Fi and 4G/5G data airwaves to let users send messages and make calls without having to eat into their precious SMS and phone call limits from their data plans.
Not only that, but it was the champion of privacy. Your data isn’t sold off, nor is it accessed by anyone else. It’s all secure and private. Then Facebook purchased them, and just like their new parent company, WhatsApp have been the focus of a number of privacy related shenanigans.
So what does the new policy mean to WhatsApp users? We take a look.
Yes, you will be sharing some information with Facebook
This was perhaps inevitable, and WhatsApp users have actually been sharing certain information with Facebook for years now.
The information you will be sharing with Facebook includes –
– Your registration information, including your name and your phone number.
– Your phone’s details (including make and model.)
– Your IP address (which will give WhatsApp and Facebook your approximate location.)
– Transactional details when using WhatsApp or Facebook payment services.
– Information on businesses you interact with using WhatsApp.
No, this doesn’t mean anyone is reading your messages
While WhatsApp still uses this encryption technology, they can’t share your messages or phone calls with Facebook. This includes messages sent in WhatsApp groups. WhatsApp also state they don’t keep logs on who messages or calls who on the service.
Is the data WhatsApp shares with Facebook enough to allow Facebook to identify me?
Certainly. Facebook are extremely good at getting user data from third party companies and pairing it with their own members. This was hardly going to be a difficult task considering the user data coming in is from a service that they own.
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WhatsApp claims it can see my transactional data?
It can, but only when you’re using Facebook-owned payment services to make online payments. If you do that, WhatsApp and Facebook can see details about that transaction.
However, despite some scarelore messages doing the rounds, this doesn’t mean WhatsApp or Facebook can access your bank accounts, nor does it receive any sensitive information on transactions made using your device that do not involve Facebook owned payment services (but of course if you do make a transaction on a website with a company, that company may record information about you and your transaction, and they may end up sharing it with Facebook!)
What does this all mean for me?
It means that when you use WhatsApp, the platform will (continue to) pass certain information about you to Facebook, which in most cases will manifest itself in more targeted ads and no doubt help increase that feeling that your surfing habits are following you around the web!
But as for your messages and phone calls as well as your bank accounts and your other social media apps, WhatsApp doesn’t (and can’t) access any of that. That may be something to cling on to, as it appears it might be the last stronghold of privacy we have left in a digital world dominated by Facebook.