WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy will now share data with Facebook

WhatsApp is once again at the center of controversy after its privacy policy update. The popular messaging platform owned by Facebook released the first update of 2021 worldwide. A notice was received by users informing them that the service will now be sharing user data with third parties. This statement is in clear-cut contrast to what the company initially said in 2014 upon acquiring the application.

Furthermore, there is no opt-out option, if users do not agree with the terms they can simply “delete their account”. Users have time till February 8 to decide if they want to keep using the application.

Facebook along with companies under the corporation will be able to access location data, IP addresses, phone model, OS, battery level, signal strength, browser, mobile network, ISP, language, time zone, and even IMEI. There’s also the information about how you are messaging, calling, what groups you are attending, the Status, the profile photo, last time you were online, etc.

The new update comes two days after the messaging application introduced a Bet update for Android for the first time in 2021. The portal released the following statement, “Accepting these new terms won’t change your WhatsApp experience: your chats, messages, calls, and status updates are still end-to-end encrypted.”

Consequently, Facebook released extreme backlash from users. The controversy is in no way helping Facebook’s cause since this is not the first time they have been under fire for data rights. However, the following statement was released to reassure users that the update is mainly targeting the business end of the application and nothing will change with regard to consumer chats.

“As we announced in October, WhatsApp wants to make it easier for people to both make a purchase and get help from a business directly on WhatsApp. While most people use WhatsApp to chat with friends and family, increasingly people are reaching out to businesses as well. To further increase transparency, we updated the privacy policy to describe that going forward businesses can choose to receive secure hosting services from our parent company Facebook to help manage their communications with their customers on WhatsApp. Though of course, it remains up to the user whether or not they want to message a business on WhatsApp.

The update does not change WhatsApp’s data-sharing practices with Facebook and does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family wherever they are in the world. WhatsApp remains deeply committed to protecting people’s privacy. We are communicating directly with users through WhatsApp about these changes so they have time to review the new policy over the course of the next month.”

The privacy policy has been released globally but European users received only one bullet point in their update due to strict privacy legislation known as GDPR. Almost 27 countries in the European Union will not have their data shared with third parties.

There are rumors also swirling around that there is a new feature in the work for WhatsApp. The new addition will allow users to stay connected on multiple devices without active internet on the main device. However, no official statement has been made.

Additionally, it seems one man’s meat is another man’s poison. The encrypted messaging app Signal saw a massive surge in its users. After WhatsApp’s update and Elon Musk’s newfound fortune, the non-profit-run messaging app had so many users that delays were experienced in phone number verifications of new accounts across multiple cell providers. It seems that WhatsApp users are fleeing to Signal due to privacy concerns. This is just the start of issues it seems Facebook will have to overcome if it sticks to its current privacy policies.

Whereas, Elon Musk has always been quite vocal about his disapproval of Facebook’s privacy policies and this recent update was no exception. After the update was rolled out and Signal’s users surged, Elon Musk subtly tweeted to his users to use Surge. It is unclear if the tweet was directed at Facebook or not.

It is yet to be seen how different Countries and users will take action against privacy policy updates. This is not the first time Facebook has been ostracized for data sharing hence the updates may not be changed regardless of user’s reactions.

About the Author

Zainab is a content creator & a passionate blogger. She is a professional tech blogger & an avid reader by soul. She loves to explore topics related to news/technology, particularly content cleanup. In her free time, she enjoys penning down her thoughts with a cup of coffee.

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