Facebook-owned messaging giant WhatsApp has updated its privacy policy so let’s talk about what it means to you.

“Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA,” once was part of the WhatsApp privacy policy. But the recent update in the policy has spread uncertainty among users across the world. People are sceptical about what data can WhatsApp see and how much control users will be losing over their experience. So, without further ado let’s get started and dissect the new update. 

Chats Will Continue Being Encrypted

Let’s start with the good news first. WhatsApp still functions on end-to-end encryption meaning your messages are safe from prying eyes. WhatsApp is changing on 3 major points: how the app manages your data, how it integrates with Facebook, and how businesses can use Facebook services to manage their WhatsApp experience. 

The Data WhatsApp Will Be Collecting 

According to WhatsApp, the app will collect “battery level, signal strength, app version, browser information, mobile network, connection information (including phone number, mobile operator or ISP), language and time zone, IP address, device operations information, and identifiers (including identifiers unique to Facebook Company Products associated with the same device or account).” 

Nothing alarming here since most apps collect this data. But it’s interesting to note that this wasn’t part of WhatsApp’s previous privacy policy. 

The ‘Facebook-isation’ of WhatsApp 

The new policy states that data like your phone number, IP address, and mobile device information will be shared with Facebook. The new policy states, “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.” 

Deleting Doesn’t Mean Deleting Anymore 

If you think deleting your WhatsApp account from the app would delete your data, you stand corrected. According to the new WhatsApp privacy policy. “When you delete your account, it does not affect your information related to the groups you created or the information other users have relating to you, such as their copy of the messages you sent them.” So, if you want to wipe your data off of WhatsApp, you would need to dig a little bit deeper.  

Be Careful While Using WhatsApp For Business Transactions 

If a user uses WhatsApp’s payment service that is intended for purchases and exchanges, WhatsApp now holds the right to pry into the additional information about the transaction. This not only includes information like payment account and transaction information but also information about payment method, details of shipping, and the transaction amount. 

No more “No Ads on WhatsApp.” 

So far, the social media giant has restrained from adulterating the experiences of its customers by bombarding them with ads. The company has maintained its position and says it has “no intention to introduce them.” However, what has alarmed people is the additional note of “but if we ever do, we will update this Privacy Policy.” 

It is interesting to note that once upon a time Zuckerberg owned Facebook too wanted to function without ads. Zuckerberg was of the belief that ads would hamper a user’s experience on Facebook. But over the years, Facebook changed its operational approach and bought ads on its platform. History has never been the same since. 

Would WhatsApp too see a day such as that? Only time could tell. 

The Shiksha Take:  

Like most privacy policies, WhatsApp’s new updated privacy policy is filled with vague and technical jargon. However, one thing is now clear. The autonomy which WhatsApp was proud of, is gone. WhatsApp is now painted blue and white in Facebook colour. Given how Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg have faced public heat for mistreating user data, it should be a cause of concern to people. 

What are your thoughts on WhatsApp and its new update? Let us know in the comments below to get the conversation around privacy and user control started.