What has happened?
WhatsApp has announced changes to its Terms of Service (ToS) starting February 8, 2021. Users must agree to the changes, or they won’t be able to use WhatsApp. WhatsApp has been a Facebook (FB) subsidiary since 2014.

The New Terms of Service of WhatsApp

What does this mean?
This means that while your personal data is still safe, your messages with businesses will soon be shared with Facebook.

The new privacy policy does not change the end-to-end encryption feature of WhatsApp. This means no one (not even the WhatsApp team) can read your messages except the recipient.

Data Collected by WhatsApp
Data Collected by WhatsApp

What all information of Business Accounts will it share with FB?

  • Account registration information (such as phone numbers)
  • Service-related information
  • Transaction data, if users use WhatsApp Pay or purchase products through it
  • Information on how you interact with others (including businesses) when using WhatsApp
  • Mobile device information
  • IP address
  • Other ‘Information We Collect’ or obtained “upon notice to you or based on your consent”

What does that mean for someone who uses WhatsApp only to chat with friends and family?
WhatsApp clarified nothing changes for messages with friends, family i.e. personal accounts.

What about conversations with business accounts?
Data Sharing Happens when you Interact with Businesses on Whatsapp.

Data Sharing by WhatsApp

If you use WhatsApp for a business and have a list of clients, the business on the other side too will see the conversation and know your preferences. This could be used to show you ads on Facebook platforms.

Will WhatsApp share my contacts?
No. The contacts are used to allow you to quickly message them from the app.

Does WhatsApp share my location with Facebook and other third parties?
It only shares approximate locations and not live locations.

Will WhatsApp share my messages with Facebook?
No. The messages will continue to be end-to-end encrypted and even WhatsApp cannot see them.

Does WhatsApp now own the content that I’ve shared?
No. It is only stored until the message is delivered.

Will WhatsApp show ads?
Not currently but that might change for business accounts in successive new policy updates.

Will WhatsApp delete my account?
It will not be deleted but will be rendered inactive if you fail to accept the new T&C and privacy policy by February 8th. However, users can accept the privacy policy after the aforementioned date and resume using the platform.

WhatsApp has released the following FAQ on its official site to clarify the issue:

Recent FAQ by WhatsApp
Recent FAQ by WhatsApp

If you still plan to use a different messaging service, here are the top alternatives:

Telegram messenger: Heavily encrypted Messaging App

Signal Private Messenger: Powers the end-to-end Encryption Technology
Discord: Excels in large Public Servers and Gaming Voice Chats
Bridgefy: Works without the Internet
Kik: No mobile number required
Snapchat: Self-destructing messages

Parting Words

Experts have commented Data protection laws are the need of the hour in India.

With the rapid evolution of digital technology, Data has become the new oil. As global corporations become seamlessly integrated into our daily lives, issues like who owns the data,   privacy, who is accountable in case of a breach, etc. will keep hitting the headlines. It’s with the effective engagement of International regulators, MNCs, Governments, Civic Society,   Citizens, etc. and unbiased user awareness that will show us the right path forward.


Contributors: Dharshan V, Team ulaunch


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3 COMMENTS

  1. We need a strong data protection law to overcome such issues. Otherwise this companies will continue their unethical activities untamed.

  2. The explanation is really wonderful. Your new segment ulaunch classroom is really thoughtful. Keep it up team.

  3. This is a much needed article especially in the times of ignorance and the immense spread of fake news. Really appreciate it!

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