The company, which just two years ago said that it “built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible,” will soon be sharing more user information with Facebook. The company claims that this move will allow it to provide better friend suggestions based on your Facebook friends list and will allow the company to be adopt better defenses against spam. WhatsApp also says that deeper integration with Facebook will allow it to alert you to fraudulent transactions that may have occurred involving your bank account or provide updates on a flight that may have been delayed or cancelled.
But of course the most valuable bit of information that Facebook stands to gain is your aforementioned phone number. “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,” writes WhatsApp. “For example, you might see an ad from a company you already work with, rather than one from someone you've never heard of.”
If you’re worried that your phone number might eventually fall into the wrong hands once its handed over to Facebook, WhatsApp is looking to calm those fears, writing, “We won’t post or share your WhatsApp number with others, including on Facebook, and we still won't sell, share, or give your phone number to advertisers.”
If there’s any consolation, WhatsApp is giving users a way to opt-out of sharing their information with Facebook in the new terms of service agreement. You have to actually pay attention when reading through the new terms and uncheck the box which toggles on the feature. If you already blindly clicked through, accepting the new terms, you have 30 days to reverse your decision by going to your account settings and unchecking the toggle control.
Even though WhatsApp will be sharing more information with Facebook, the company contends that “your encrypted messages stay private and no one else can read them.”