WhatsApp new Privacy Policy

The announcement that WhatsApp will be getting new terms and conditions has to be the biggest thing to hit 2021. (so far) It has caused panic amongst the people who rely on the messaging app to stay in contact with friends, family and colleagues and now the sudden urge for mass exodus from the application has started. WhatsApp has long prided itself on its commitment to security and privacy, with encrypted conversations and other important technologies integrated into the app. However the new announcement has sparked fears of the exact opposite: that people’s information is not being kept secret but instead shared with Facebook and other third party applications and businesses. In this infographic we will show you what information has changed in the elusive T&C’s, what you will need to be aware of as well as options to move to another messaging app, if you choose to do so.

What changed?

The privacy policy and terms of service is a long winded 8,000 word legal jargon document that isn’t clear to half the population. Those new rules have basically stated: “Take it or leave it” which has naturally alarmed users considering Facebook’s poor reputation with user data.

In short, Facebook Inc spent $16 billion for WhatsApp and they need to reap the reward for this onset, they however do not ask for a service or product charge and use targeted marketing to receive their income. With WhatsApp this will now be done with the use of in-app messaging adverts, which is still to come and business model based advertising.

The messaging app will now share data with their parent company that includes location data, battery level, mobile network, frequency of messages with another user, status updates, groups and businesses you are participating in, profile picture and lastly transactions and payments data. (NOTE: financial information is only tracked if you use WhatsApp pay, which is not even accessible in South Africa yet – so DON’T PANIC)

Important to take note!

The policy changes are largely cosmetic and mainly relate to interactions with business accounts but did you know that the information has already been shared for the majority of users for YEARS! In 2016, WhatsApp did have a pop up that stated you needed to accept the new T&C’s and then you could carry on using the app in which most users hit accept and moved on with their day.

If you are going to take the approach that you do not want WhatsApp knowing anything about you then you would also need to consider deleting Facebook, Facebook messenger, Instagram, and every other company owned by Facebook Incorporated. Note that the information collected from WhatsApp is minimal compared to that of the other Facebook Inc applications.

They say it’s only the business side

The really significant update is that WhatsApp has added new features to allow people to communicate with businesses – and those businesses could be hosted by Facebook, which means that you might see an ad from a company you’ve already done business with rather than one you’ve never heard of. When speaking to those contacts, messages might be stored and managed by Facebook, and so those conversations could be shared with the company more generally.

When speaking to a business who has decided to have its messages managed by Facebook, a message should appear – and users should stop talking to them if they would prefer that information is not shared.

Can you see if whatsapp already gives your info to facebook from the 2016 t&c’s update?

Yes you can, but it can take up to 3 days to find out!

In the mobile app follow these steps:

  1. Go to settings
  2. Click on the account details tab
  3. Request Account Info

You will then receive a notification to say it will be ready in 3 days, after which you will have a month to download it. This report will have a lot of fascinating information, but you will want to look for the section labeled Terms of Service/ 2016 Terms of Service and Data Sharing Opt-Out. If it reads “NO” then you are already sharing your data with Facebook.

 

Written by: Robyn Bartlett