WhatsApp updates its Terms and Privacy Policy to mandate data-sharing with Facebook

 WhatsApp users are receiving an in-app notice today regarding the service’s new terms and privacy policy. The notice, as you can see in the attached screenshot, talks about three key updates that affect how WhatsApp processes your data, how businesses can use Facebook-hosted services to store and manage their WhatsApp chats, and how WhatsApp will soon partner with Facebook to offer deeper integrations across all of the latter’s products. It further reveals that these changes will go into effect on February 8th, and users will have no choice but to accept these changes if they wish to continue using WhatsApp.

WhatsApp privacy policy update notification

The new terms and privacy policy update builds upon a similar change WhatsApp announced in July last year. However, in the previous update, WhatsApp gave users the option to “not have your WhatsApp account information shared with Facebook.” With the latest update, WhatsApp has done away with this option, and users will have to accept the new terms and privacy policy if they want to continue using the instant messenger.

If you agree to the changes, here’s all the information WhatsApp will share with other Facebook companies: “The information we share with the other Facebook Companies includes your account registration information (such as your phone number), transaction data, service-related information, information on how you interact with others (including businesses) when using our Services, mobile device information, your IP address, and may include other information identified in the Privacy Policy section entitled ‘Information We Collect’ or obtained upon notice to you or based on your consent.”

The updated privacy policy further highlights how other Facebook companies may use the information collected from WhatsApp. This includes:

helping improve infrastructure and delivery systems;

understanding how our Services or theirs are used;

promoting safety, security and integrity across the Facebook Company Products, e.g., security systems and fighting spam, threads, abuse, or infringement activities;

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. For example, allowing you to connect your Facebook Pay account to pay for things on WhatsApp or enabling you to chat with your friends on other Facebook Company Products, such as Portal, by connecting your WhatsApp account.

The new WhatsApp terms and privacy policy change falls in line with Facebook’s larger goal of providing a more cohesive experience to users across all its services. But while the changes may help the company provide “better” services, it raises several privacy concerns that don’t bode well for Facebook’s “Privacy-Focused Vision” for Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Fortunately for users in the EU, these policy changes don’t apply as WhatsApp has to abide by the strict requirements of GDPR.

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