WhatsApp's New Privacy Policy Effectively Forces Users To Share Data With Facebook

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WhatsApp was once hailed as an excellent and secure method for contacting people. However, Facebook bought out WhatsApp, and since then, it has dealt with several privacy and security lapses. Now, Facebook is tightening the noose around WhatsApp by forcing users to accept Facebook data collection through the app.

Starting on February 8th, users joining WhatsApp will automatically be sending data to Facebook due to the terms and privacy policy changes going into effect. Current users will likely soon see a notification in-app, which will give them the option of accepting these terms or deleting their account. You can see what this notification looks like below.
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If you follow the link to the privacy policy, you’ll find that there was an update on January 4th of this year. The most intriguing tidbit, whether intentional or not, is that the following statement has been removed from the Privacy Policy from earlier this year: Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA. Since we started WhatsApp, we’ve aspired to build our Services with a set of strong privacy principles in mind.

Furthermore, a new statement informs users that WhatsApp now works with third-party service providers and other Facebook companies, like Facebook Technologies, Onavo, CrowdTangle, and others. This is to help WhatsApp “operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services.” Effectively, this means there is data being collected and shared among companies partnered with WhatsApp. Thankfully, the main pieces of data collected are listed throughout the privacy policy which we have gathered here:
  • “service-related, diagnostic, and performance information” – how and how much you use WhatsApp.
  • “device and connection-specific information” – essentially full phone information, phone number, mobile operator, ISP, language, time zone, IP address, and “device operations information, and identifiers.”
  • “location information” – with permission, precise GPS, otherwise IP address and phone number area code to estimate location.
Quite frankly, it is terrifying that all that data is collected whether you want it or not. In the future, users will not have an option, though, so perhaps WhatsApp is not the best choice if you are concerned about privacy. There are alternatives out there, though, such as Signal, that have a much better reputation. Ultimately, the only way to show that this is not okay is by voting with your wallet and usage of the app, and it is time to fight privacy invasions.