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WhatsApp: What to know about the new forced data-sharing terms (Updated with Facebook response)

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Update: A Facebook spokesperson reached out to Memeburn to say that the company would honour the one-time opt-out that was offered in 2016 when it comes to sharing WhatsApp account information with Facebook companies. 

“We are continuing to honour the opt-out for anyone who has chosen to do that and this update does not change that. So if anyone who has previously opted out, agrees to the new update, we will acknowledge their agreement and also continue to honour the opt-out,” the spokesperson said. 

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However, it’s important to note that this opt-out is not included in the new terms or privacy policy, which we have directly quoted in our story. Facebook has also not released a global statement saying that it will continue to honour the opt-out feature originally offered in 2016.

Original story below:

WhatsApp has updated its privacy policy and terms of use, forcing users to share info with Facebook or stop using the app, attracting the ire of users.

WhatsApp alternatives Telegram and iMessage trended on social media as the Facebook-owned messaging service pushed users to accept its new privacy policy and terms.

On 7 January, WhatsApp users received prompts that the app’s terms were changing — specifically, the information that will be shared with Facebook.

While users have previously been able to opt-out of terms related to sharing data with Facebook, from 8 February, users will either need to accept the new terms or delete WhatsApp. (Ed’s note: The Facebook spokesperson said this opt-out feature was a once-off option available in 2016. “It’s important to understand though that in practice there is no difference from how we operated last month,” the spokesperson told Memeburn).

As a result, many users have threatened to use Apple’s iMessage or competitor Telegram instead.

New Whatsapp Privacy Policy

The older WhatsApp Privacy Policy, updated in July 2020, gave existing users the choice to not have their WhatsApp account information shared with Facebook for ads or services.

“If you are an existing user, you can choose not to have your WhatsApp account information shared with Facebook to improve your Facebook ads and products experiences,” the old policy stated.

However, the new policy, for February 2021, states:

“As part of the Facebook Companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, the other Facebook Companies.”

According to the policy, this includes sharing information for the purpose of:

  • improving their services and your experiences using them, such as making suggestions for you (for example, of friends or group connections, or of interesting content), personalizing features and content, helping you complete purchases and transactions, and showing relevant offers and ads across the Facebook Company Products; and
  • providing integrations which enable you to connect your WhatsApp experiences with other Facebook Company Products

What information will the app share with Facebook?

So what is the information that WhatsApp will collect and share with other Facebook companies?

The collected and shared information will include:

  • your phone number
  • transaction data (purchases made)
  • “service-related information”
  • information on how you interact with others (including businesses)
  • mobile device information
  • IP address
  • Other information Facebook may collect with cookies

When will WhatsApp’s 2021 terms take effect?

The new terms take effect from 8 February 2021, according to the in-app prompt.

“After this date, you’ll need to accept these updates to continue using WhatsApp,” the prompt says.

The prompt has not gone down well with users, many of whom have threatened to move to other services.

Even if you don’t use the main Facebook social network itself, the company also owns Instagram. With its history of data leaks, continued user data sharing and aggregation poses a major concern for privacy-minded users.

You can view the new privacy policy and terms on the company’s website.

Feature image: Megan Ellis/Memeburn

Read more: How to use the new WhatsApp storage tool to free up space

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