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This is all the data WhatsApp collects on you and shares with Facebook
At the time of the initial announcement, WhatsApp took to Twitter to debunk rumors and clarify exactly what was being shared with Facebook. In India, where WhatsApp has over 340 million users, the app took to front-page newspaper advertisements to explain exactly what data is being shared.
Which brings us to the question, exactly what data is being shared between WhatsApp and Facebook under the former’s new policy? Moreover, is there anything to be concerned about for the average Joe? Let’s take a look at the state of WhatsApp privacy and what data it collects on its users.
How to customize WhatsApp privacy settings
WhatsApp gives you a lot of control over who can see your status messages, profile photos, and even your online status. Here’s how you can customize these settings to your preference.
Tap the three dots button in the right-hand corner and select Settings from the drop-down menu. From here, head to the Account > Privacy page. You can now tap any of the options here, including your online ‘last seen’ status, and select between three options allowing you to choose between everyone, nobody, and just your contact list. You can also toggle read receipts from this page if you want to hide your online status. The full list of options that can be customized includes:
- Last seen status
- Profile photo
- About page
- Status message
- Read receipts
- Disappearing messages
- Group invitations
- Live location
- Blocked contacts
- Fingerprint lock
If you want an extra degree of security, WhatsApp also offers disappearing messages. These messages can be toggled to automatically delete anywhere from 24 hours to seven days or as long as 90 days. Disappearing messages ensure that all track of a conversation is automatically removed after a reasonable period of time.
Finally, you can also set a fingerprint lock from this page.
What data does WhatsApp collect on you and share with Facebook?
Here is all the data that will now be shared when communicating with any of the 50 million business accounts on the platform:
- Phone number
- Device ID
- Transaction data
- Product interaction
- User identifiers
Presumably, most of this information will be used for better ad targeting. By parsing your transaction data and your location, Facebook can optimize advertisements for your interests. We’ve already seen this happen between Facebook and Instagram.
Now, with WhatsApp, the company should have even more granular data on one-to-one communication between you and a business. As an end-user, you should expect to see better advertisements across Facebook’s social platforms. The shared data will also allow a business to send you payment confirmations and transaction data over the messaging platform.
These data-sharing policies only apply to businesses that opt to use Facebook’s business hosting solutions. The company claims that conversations with such businesses will be clearly marked out with a label.
What data won’t be collected by WhatsApp?
- Private chats
- Private phone calls
- Message or call logs
- Contact information
- Shared location
- WhatsApp group information
We want to address some rumors and be 100% clear we continue to protect your private messages with end-to-end encryption. pic.twitter.com/6qDnzQ98MP— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) January 12, 2021
That said, there is no change to policies around private communication. None of the changes apply to users unless they use the app for chatting with a business entity.
There’s no denying the fact that WhatsApp is deeply ingrained into everyday conversations in major markets like Europe and India. In fact, India alone contributes 340 million users to WhatsApp’s global two billion user base. However, will the updated policy be the straw that breaks the camel’s back? Are you looking at switching over to more secure, privacy-focused platforms? Let us know below.