WhatsApp clarifies the new update of the privacy policy and says that the exchange of data with Facebook will be limited to communication with companies

A recent update to WhatsApp’s privacy policy appeared to be forcing users to agree to share personal data with Facebook and its other subsidiary companies, or to stop using the messaging app by February 8. In response to a storm of criticism, WhatsApp has issued a clarification specifying exactly what types of user data will be shared.

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The company also appeared to be responding indirectly to the new privacy “nutrition labels” required by Apple, breaking down its specific levels of access to personal data in an attempt to reassure a user base that accepts it as the “security-focused. “. alternative to Facebook Messenger.

WhatsApp privacy policy update indicates that data sharing is limited to business messaging

A new “privacy and security” FAQ section on WhatsApp’s website addressed the privacy policy update, emphasizing that neither it nor Facebook scans messages or anything shared in groups. The new page also claims that users ‘contacts will not be shared with Facebook and that none of the companies can see users’ locations. WhatsApp also does not record call and message contacts, and will continue to allow users to set messages to disappear and download personal data.

The company issued the following statement on Twitter: “We want to address some rumors and be 100% clear, we continue to protect your private messages with end-to-end encryption… We want to make it clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends. or relatives in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to a company’s messaging on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides more transparency on how we collect and use data. “

Most of this was already known to the public and seemed to be reiterated to allay concerns created by the tandem of new iOS privacy labels and the announcement of the privacy policy update together last week. New to these FAQs is the statement that WhatsApp will only share user data related to business messaging with Facebook.

WhatsApp says that this data sharing will only apply to in-app businesses using the hosting services provided by Facebook, and that it will provide users with a notification of this before messaging the business. Users who participate in WhatsApp conversations with these companies can have the content of their chats, including uploaded files, such as purchase receipts, shared with Facebook for use in their personalized advertising services.

This new aspect of the privacy policy update applies to companies using the WhatsApp Business API hosted by Facebook, which is a customer service system used to handle product questions and matters such as product returns. The WhatsApp Business API is not widely used today, with only around 1,000 companies worldwide signed up at the end of 2019. These messages are end-to-end encrypted just like all other messages sent via WhatsApp, except Facebook (and possibly its other affiliates like Instagram) will be able to access the contents.

This data sharing ultimately appears to be aimed at fueling the personalized advertising ecosystem that is already present on Instagram and Facebook. Businesses that purchase personalized ads do not gain access to any personal information or user identities, but instead bid on certain demographics to which they would like the ads to be delivered.

Poor communication and public relations of the privacy policy update

Assuming WhatsApp sticks to the clarifications you just made, it would appear that the privacy policy update was a case of very poor communications and public relations. The vague wording led many to believe that personal data would be freely shared with Facebook, prompting a massive exodus of users to Signal and Telegram (which have added millions of new users since the announcement was made). It seems that nothing will change for WhatsApp users in terms of data exchange after February 8, except that they have with companies that are marked as using Facebook’s business API service for the application. However, the new iOS privacy labels reveal that WhatsApp has been collecting a wider range of data than users expected, given that the company’s branding has always been primarily focused on privacy.

Although this information has been available through the WhatsApp website long before the new privacy policy update, the iOS privacy label provides an at-a-glance summary of what the app collects that may have surprised some users. . Currently, WhatsApp collects users’ phone numbers, data on transactions with companies that use the WhatsApp Business API, IP addresses, mobile device identifiers and diagnostic information, among other elements. This information could be shared with Facebook through business partners in the future.

The new FAQ addressed the update to WhatsApp’s privacy policy, opening up emphasizing that neither he nor Facebook scan messages or anything shared in groups. #privacy #respectdata

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Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp dominate the instant messaging market in the Western world, but the mishandling of this privacy policy update may have opened the playing field for competitors who can better trade your privacy record. Both Signal and Telegram are independent companies; Signal was formed by the team that developed message encryption for Facebook (before a bitter split), while Telegram is primarily funded by a Russian social media billionaire who so far keeps it separate from any other service. Both services have stated that they plan to rely on donations as a funding model in the future, and Signal is also registered as a nonprofit, making it eligible for grant money.


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