Science & Tech

No WhatsApp for you after 8 Feb. unless you allow Facebook to harvest your data

MANY people are very wary of Facebook and its intrusive methods towards gaining access to our personal data and privacy. When it comes to messaging app WhatsApp however, people are far more willing to share very personal and private information with one another in what has been deemed a far more secure app due to its end-to-end encryption.

The problem here is that Facebook owns WhatsApp, and now the company is coming for your personal data on it as well.

The company updated its terms and conditions this week in a message which was sent out to its more than 2 billion users.

While most people treated the update legalese as a blink and you will miss it update, the truth is that there was actually some key information mentioned. The new update detailed the type of information the company will now be collecting from all users, as reported byArsTechnica:

  • User phone numbers
  • Other people’s phone numbers stored in address books
  • Profile names
  • Profile pictures
  • Status message including when a user was last online
  • Diagnostic data collected from app logs
  • Purchases
  • Financial information
  • Location
  • Contacts
  • User content
  • Identifiers
  • Usage data and
  • Diagnostics

As part of the Facebook family of companies, WhatsApp receives information from and shares information with, this family of companies. We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings

This information will be used for advertising purposes and shared with various business as part of the company’s efforts to monetise WhatsApp even further and turn its massive user base into a commercial hub for the company.

Perhaps the biggest issue at stake here though is how Facebook sprung this update on users without any press releases or prior communication, taking many people by surprise.  

These changes come a month after Apple started requiring iOS app makers, including WhatsApp, to detail the information they collect from users. It’s likely though that this is unrelated, and Facebook’s current plans were always on the roadmap for WhatsApp.

Whereas in the past, users could opt-out of any data collection, Facebook is now making this mandatory and has indicated that all those who don’t accept the revamped privacy policy by February 8 will no longer be able to use the app.

I guess the real big question will be to see whether users move away from WhatsApp and onto other messaging platforms or if they continue to let Facebook collect all their data despite the existing concerns. 🔺

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