Whatsapp Sold Your Data and Privacy

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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?

As part of its new privacy policy and terms of service, WhatsApp will start sharing user data with Facebook and a few other third-party entities. The exact data being transferred has not been specified, but it is likely to be a combination of your phone number, contact information, and user behaviour data. This data is transmitted securely and encrypted, so even Facebook cannot read the content of your messages. However, it can still see who you are communicating with, when, for how long, and how often. In addition, it can also see other data such as what type of device you use, your IP address, and other metadata. All of this makes it easier for Facebook to target its users with ads.

Time is money

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.

He thanks you for your data

The problem with WhatsApp’s new app updates

As we have already noted, WhatsApp has been careful to avoid using the term “data sharing” or “data selling” in its PR materials and statements to users. So, when it recently updated its privacy policy and terms of service, it did not make it clear to users that they are now sharing their data with Facebook. In fact, the company has not even used the word “Facebook” in its privacy policy. WhatsApp has also added a new “click here to agree to the new terms” button at the bottom of its app’s update screen. Users who don’t want to share their data with Facebook don’t actually have to click on this button. They can simply close the app and uninstall it.


As we have noted in this article, WhatsApp’s new privacy policy and terms of service do not breach any privacy laws. However, they do breach the trust of its users by making it clear that they are sharing data with Facebook. The company has done a very good job of hiding these changes, but they are there. If you are a WhatsApp user, we recommend that you read this article carefully and download all the data that you have shared with WhatsApp. You may also want to use an App like Self-destructing Email to delete all the data that you have sent via WhatsApp.


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