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WhatsApp in damage control mode after privacy policy backlash

WhatsApp wants to reassure users that their private messages are safe.

Published onJanuary 12, 2021

WhatsApp by Facebook stock photo 4
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • WhatsApp has issued new information clarifying its latest privacy policy changes.
  • The platform claims that the policy update does not affect private messages.
  • Its latest statements, however, are confusing and contradictory to its policy terms.

WhatsApp is now in damage control mode in the wake of widespread criticism from users over its updated privacy policy. The messaging service has taken to Twitter to “address some rumors and be 100% clear” that it protects private messages.

“We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data,” WhatsApp writes in its updated FAQ section.

The Facebook-owned service has also published an infographic clarifying how it handles private messages. It claims that it cannot see messages exchanged between users or hear their calls. Facebook also doesn’t have access to this data. It further clarifies that it does not keep logs and doesn’t see your shared location, contacts, or group messages.

WhatsApp privacy policy: Digging deeper

WhatsApp’s latest clarifications don’t really inspire confidence because the information that it automatically collects and shares with Facebook and third-party providers includes many personal identifiers. Its privacy policy clearly states that information collection happens across the board and not just for users interacting with businesses on WhatsApp.

whatsapp privacy policy

As for the information WhatsApp shares with Facebook companies, its FAQ section still states the following:

WhatsApp currently shares certain categories of information with Facebook Companies. The information we share with the other Facebook Companies includes your account registration information (such as your phone number), transaction data, service-related information, information on how you interact with others (including businesses) when using our Services, mobile device information, your IP address, and may include other information identified in the Privacy Policy section entitled ‘Information We Collect’ or obtained upon notice to you or based on your consent.

Notice how interaction with businesses is mentioned as an inclusion to all interactions, not as a standalone like the company is now claiming in its latest public messaging.

Also, saying something like “we cannot see your shared location and neither can Facebook” seems wrong on WhatsApp’s part as its policy clearly states “you cannot share your location with your contacts if you do not permit us (WhatsApp) to collect your location data from your device.” Besides, we’ve already seen how companies have many other ways of figuring out our exact location.

All in all, it looks like WhatsApp is trying its best to retain users who seem to be looking to other messaging platforms like Signal and Telegram in the wake of the new policy changes. Our ongoing poll to gauge people’s reaction to WhatsApp’s new privacy policy also shows growing discontent for the platform, even though many people feel they have no choice but to accept its terms. What do you think?

What do you think of WhatsApp's updated privacy policy?

11783 votes

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