WhatsApp announced a change to its terms and conditions which would require users to agree to it apparently sharing certain personal data with Facebook (and its subsidiaries), and which would have to be accepted by 08 February 2021 if you wanted to maintain access to the app (this has since been moved to 15 May 2021 after backlash). This resulted in numerous messages being shared amongst people comparing WhatsApp’s services to that of two other messaging apps: Telegram and Signal.

WhatsApp has sought to clarify that this new policy and the data collected apparently would affect people who are communicating with WhatsApp Business accounts through them in a similar manner as Facebook would collect data on interactions with businesses on their site.

The change would apparently not alter the original position with the content of messages and calls (essentially) remaining encrypted, although it may only have become apparent to users that certain details and (meta)data does get collected and shared. This has actually been the case for years now.

Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, and had reportedly announced at the time that it would not collect data from WhatsApp. Back in 2016, there was a policy changed where certain data, including phone numbers, would be shared with Facebook, with a 30-day window given to users to opt out.

Ironically, the apparent transparency of this policy change in the message sent out to users may have caused those same users to question their comfort levels with continuing to use the app and its data collecting and sharing practices. Many users may not have given any of this a second glance had it taken the usual forms we are used to like email updates or the details of a standard update to the app where the terms and conditions change, which typically go unread by the vast majority of users.

Are you concerned about what data is being collected and shared? Will you be making a change to another messaging app? Do you believe that the data which is collected and shared is not enough to justify a change from your use of WhatsApp, especially since you already use Facebook and Instagram (another subsidiary)?

For direct answers to your specific personal questions, please contact us directly.

Author – Murray Taylor

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