News Leak Centre

No Fear No Favour

Shh! Your secret WhatsApp conversations is being sold out

Facebook-owned messaging giant WhatsApp has announced a big change to its privacy policy which, once a user accepts its new T&Cs, will see it start to share some user data with its parent company — including for ad-targeting purposes on the latter service.

“By coordinating more with Facebook, we’ll be able to do things like track basic metrics about how often people use our services and better fight spam on WhatsApp,” WhatsApp writes in a blog on the change today.

“Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them. For example, you might see an ad from a company you already work with, rather than one from someone you’ve never heard of.”

WhatsApp will also be sharing the data with the “Facebook family of companies” — so presumably its user data could also be fed to VR firm Oculus Rift, another Fb acquisition, and photo-sharing network Instagram.

Read Tobias Burns' answer to Is Facebook tracking our WhatsApp messages? on Quora

WhatsApp data that will be shared under the new T&Cs includes the phone number a user used to verify their account, and the last time they used the service.

Two pieces of data which — on a creepiness scale of ‘personal intel you’d rather not hand over to a data-mining tech giant’ — are both right up there.

You can read the full WhatsApp privacy policy here.

There is an option to opt out of some of the data sharing (specifically for ad and product purposes) — see lower down this post for more details — although most users will just tap ‘I agree’ to WhatsApp’s new T&Cs without reading them and realizing what they are agreeing to.

This is why, as we’ve said before, T&Cs suck. And why user consent to a massive privacy shift like this should certainly not default opt people in.

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