WhatsApp has introduced significant changes to its Privacy Policy, such as the sharing of user data with Facebook. Is it possible to say no? How?

If you are one of the WhatsApp users there is something that you need to know, the popular messaging app will begin sharing its users’ data with Facebook. Facebook, that acquired WhatsApp for $19 Billion in 2014, will use the information about WhatsApp users to target advertising.

“Today, we’re updating WhatsApp’s terms and privacy policy for the first time in four years, as part of our plans to test ways for people to communicate with businesses in the months ahead. The updated documents also reflect that we’ve joined Facebook and that we’ve recently rolled out many new features, like end-to-end encryption, WhatsApp Calling, and messaging tools like WhatsApp for web and desktop. You can read the full documents here.” states a blog post published by WhatsApp.

“But by coordinating more with Facebook, we’ll be able to do things like track basic metrics about how often people use our services and better fight spam on WhatsApp. And by connecting your phone number with Facebook’s systems, Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them. For example, you might see an ad from a company you already work with, rather than one from someone you’ve never heard of. You can learn more, including how to control the use of your data, here.”

WhatsApp announced the introduction of some significant changes to its privacy policy and T&Cs, accepting them gives the company the permission to connect users’ Facebook accounts to WhatsApp accounts for the first time. This means more information for the giant of the social networks that could use data to target users with dedicated advertising campaigns.

whatsapp shares data Facebook

WhatsApp will begin pushing users to share some information about their account (i.e. Phone numbers) with Facebook, that could be used by Facebook for various activities, for example, to suggest phone contacts as friends.

WhatsApp reassured its users, the contents of users’ messages will continue to be protected by end-to-end encrypted, meaning that both the company and Facebook cannot read them.

Unfortunately, the company is offering a partial opt-out solution for the data sharing with Facebook as clarified in the following statement:

“data will still be shared “for other purposes such as improving infrastructure and delivery systems, understanding how our services or theirs are used, securing systems, and fighting spam, abuse, or infringement activities.”

WhatsApp users that desire to opt -out of sharing data for Facebook ad-targeting purpose have the following options:

For those users who have not yet agreed to the new terms of service and privacy policy, before accepting them follow these simple steps:

  • When prompted to accept the updated T&Cs, tap Read to expand the full text.
  • A checkbox option at the bottom of the policy for sharing your data on Facebook will appear.
  • Untick this option before hitting Agree. This will let you opt out of the data-sharing.

For those who have already accepted the new T&Cs without unchecking the box to share their information with Facebook.

  • Go to Settings → Account → Share my account info in the WhatsApp app
  • Uncheck the box displayed there within 30 days, as after that this partial opt-out window will expire.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Privacy, Facebook)

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