In an attempt to monetize its rapidly growing messaging app and shed its tag as a “free” service, Facebook has started sharing user data with third-party apps. In return, these apps share anonymized user data back to Facebook. The idea is that this enables businesses to target their marketing activities more effectively and efficiently, while users get to enjoy the service at no cost. While earlier this may have raised red flags for some, today things are different. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and recent privacy concerns around both Facebook and Google, people are becoming much more cautious about what kind of information they share online, as well as with whom they share it.
What exactly did WhatsApp sell?
What you need to know about the new WhatsApp T&Cs
The new T&Cs have been rolled out very quietly. In fact, most users have probably not even noticed the changes. WhatsApp has been very careful to avoid any PR disasters, and has been very careful to avoid using the term “data sharing” or “data selling” in its official communication. Instead, it has focused on pitching the new feature as an “alternative” for free service, “better-targeted” ads, and “more relevant” ads. The changes to the T&Cs are fairly minor, but they make it clear that WhatsApp is now an ad-based service. It also gives Facebook permission to collect information such as your IP address, web browsing, and online purchase data. WhatsApp has also made it clear that it will share your data with “affiliates,” which includes Facebook and other companies within its corporate family. Finally, WhatsApp has also made it clear that it can change its T&Cs at any time.
Whatsapp’s response to the Facebook data sharing scandal
WhatsApp responded to the scandal by issuing a blog post and an open letter to its users. In the post, it said that data collected and shared with Facebook is “used to improve our Services, realize operational efficiencies, and create new service offerings.” WhatsApp has promised that the “data is anonymized and used to create better services, not to make money.” However, it is worth noting that the word “anonymized” has been a source of confusion in the past. While this may or may not be true, it is also worth noting that in its terms of service, WhatsApp has promised to keep its promise for “a year” only.
The problem with WhatsApp’s new app updates