- The updated policy states that WhatsApp may share user information with its family of companies to “facilitate, support and integrate their activities and improve our services.” This means that the app would automatically collect your basic information and share it with Facebook.
- WhatsApp will collect and share details regarding user activity, how often you use the app, specific features that are used, and even your profile photo and status. Since WhatsApp has its own payment system, it would also share information regarding all transaction data. It may also collect data from any interactions you make with a business account.
- The app will also collect information about the type of device that you use, your mobile network, IP address, and battery usage. It may also use precise location information from your device.
- All this information would be used by Facebook and its products to make suggestions, personalise features & content, and “help” its users complete purchases. The policy update also states that data-sharing with Facebook will help to ensure better security and fight spam.
- The data collected from WhatsApp would ultimately be used to show offers and advertisements across Facebook Company Products. This includes Messenger, Instagram, Oculus Products, Facebook Shops, and many more.
The important fact to be noted is that WhatsApp had already been sharing certain types of data with Facebook. However, these policies were not very transparent until now. While WhatsApp users in the European Union can opt-out of data-sharing with Facebook, the rest of the world does not have the same choice. Users have until February 8 to accept these changes. In case you are not comfortable with WhatsApp’s new user-data policy and do not accept it, the app will become inaccessible.
Should You Be Concerned?
WhatsApp Issues Clarification
On the location sharing part, WhatsApp pointed out that it could not view the shared location of users, and neither could Facebook. The location cannot be seen by anyone except the people with whom it is shared. In terms of data sharing, the Facebook-owned platform said that the update primarily focused on 'business messaging' on WhatsApp. The statement assured that WhatsApp will not share your contacts with Facebook or any other third-party apps.
What are the Alternatives?
Despite the reassurance from the company, many people have become sceptical about using WhatsApp. We feel insecure about using the app, as there seem to be a lot of additional or underlying clauses attached to each policy. Recently, we saw that Elon Musk sent a tweet that sent shockwaves across the world. He promoted the use of Signal as a better alternative to WhatsApp.
Fun Fact: The shares of a company named Signal Advance, which has no connection with the Signal Messenger App, has surged by 11,708% since the tweet was sent by the Tesla CEO!
Signal is an encrypted app that lets you send messages and make calls. The platform’s unique selling proposition (USP) is its focus on privacy. The app was established by The Signal Foundation, which is a US-based non-profit organization. Signal is open source and its code is peer-reviewed. This means that its privacy and security are regularly checked by independent experts. The app supports group chats and group video calls as well. Signal is a much more private alternative, where the parent company's business interests do not clash with your privacy. The company has assured its users that all content would be private and secure. We are now witnessing a huge surge in the number of downloads of the Signal app.
Telegram could also be a better alternative. By default, Telegram chats are not end-to-end encrypted. It lets users choose whether they want their chats to be backed up on the cloud. The app also has features like multi-device support. It has currently surpassed the 50-crore subscriber mark.
|End-to-End Encryption (E2E)||Yes (Backups are not encrypted)||Yes||Only for secret chats, all calls|
|Chat Backups||Yes, Google Drive or iCloud||No, stored locally on the device||Yes, on Telegram’s cloud|
|Advertisements||No||No||Not currently, but plans to add soon|
|Group Chat Security||Yes, E2E||Yes, ETE||No|
|Video and Voice Calls||Yes||Yes||Yes|