WhatsApp provides clarification on new privacy update amid criticism

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on January 12, 2021 Published on January 12, 2021

The messaging platform has introduced a new FAQ page with details

WhatsApp on Tuesday provided further clarification on its updated terms which will come into effect from February 8 amid growing criticism.

The messaging platform has introduced a new FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page with details about its updated privacy policy and terms of service amid rising concerns regarding WhatsApp’s sharing of data with Facebook.

“We want to address some rumors and be 100 per cent clear we continue to protect your private messages with end-to-end encryption,” WhatsApp wrote in a tweet.

The platform emphasised that user chats will remain end-to-end encrypted and that the changes will not impact the privacy of messages sent to friends or family.

“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,” reads the FAQ page on the new update.

Chats with friends and family

WhatsApp in the FAQ page said that it does not access a user’s private messages or hear their calls, and neither can Facebook.

“Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can read your messages or hear your calls with your friends, family, and co-workers on WhatsApp,” it said adding that it does not keep logs of who everyone is messaging or calling.

“We can’t see your shared location and neither can Facebook,” it further said.

The platform further emphasis on the data that it does not share with its parent company Facebook.

“When you give us permission, we access only the phone numbers from your address book to make messaging fast and reliable, and we don’t share your contacts lists with the other apps Facebook offers,” it said.

Regarding private group chats, WhatsApp said that it does not share group data with Facebook for ads purpose.

People-to-business chats

The platform further detailed the data that will be shared with Facebook following the update which is primarily for its people-to-business features.

Businesses on the platform will have the choice to go for “secure hosting services” from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers. WhatsApp will label conversations with businesses that are choosing to use hosting services from Facebook.

Apart from this, businesses on the platform can leverage Facebook-branded commerce features like Shops to display their goods within WhatsApp. In this case, if a customer chooses to interact with Shops, their shopping activity can be used to personalise their Shops experience and the ads that they see on Facebook and Instagram.

“Features like this are optional and when you use them we will tell you in the app how your data is being shared with Facebook,” WhatsApp said.

Apart from this, users may see an ad on Facebook with a button to message a business using WhatsApp.

“If you have WhatsApp installed on your phone, you’ll have the option to message that business. Facebook may use the way you interact with these ads to personalize the ads you see on Facebook,” WhatsApp said.

The Facebook-owned messaging platform had started to notify users regarding the change last week. Users are required to accept the new terms in order to continue using the app. There have been rising concerns regarding the updated policy across the globe.

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Published on January 12, 2021
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