WhatsApp users must agree to share their personal information with Facebook if they want to continue using the messaging service from next month, according to new terms and conditions.
“We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings, including the Facebook Company Products.”
Yes, said information includes your personal information. Thus, in other words, WhatsApp users must allow their personal info to be shared with Facebook and its subsidiaries as and when decided by the tech giant. Presumably, this is to serve personalized advertising.
If you’re a user today, you have two choices: accept this new arrangement, or stop using the end-to-end encrypted chat app (and use something else, like Signal.) The changes are expected to take effect on February 8.
When WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014, it promised netizens that its instant-messaging app would not collect names, addresses, internet searches, or location data. CEO Jan Koum wrote in a blog post: “Above all else, I want to make sure you understand how deeply I value the principle of private communication. For me, this is very personal. I was born in Ukraine, and grew up in the USSR during the 1980s.
“One of my strongest memories from that time is a phrase I’d frequently hear when my mother was talking on the phone: ‘This is not a phone conversation; I’ll tell you in person.’ The fact that we couldn’t speak freely without the fear that our communications would be monitored by KGB is in part why we moved to the United States when I was a teenager.”
Two years later, however, that vow was eroded by, well, capitalism, and WhatsApp decided it would share its users’ information with Facebook though only if they consented. That ability to opt-out, however, will no longer be an option from next month. Koum left in 2018.
That means users who wish to keep using WhatsApp must be prepared to give up personal info such as their names, profile pictures, status updates, phone numbers, contacts lists, and IP addresses, as well as data about their mobile devices, such as model numbers, operating system versions, and network carrier details, to the mothership. If users engage with businesses via the app, order details such as shipping addresses and the amount of money spent can be passed to Facebook, too.