Explained: WhatsApp is updating Terms and Privacy Policy

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Did you suddenly receive a popup notification on your phone from WhatsApp that says “WhatsApp is updating terms and privacy policy“? This is part of a major update by WhatsApp and in this guide we will explain to you what it means and what you can do about it.

There is a very famous saying in Silicon Valley, “if something is free, you are the product”. This means that all apps and services we use for free, like Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp etc are giving their services for free because they use our usage data to sell to advertisers.

What is the WhatsApp Terms and Privacy Policy

The message received my most users around the world says something like this:

WhatsApp is updating its terms and privacy policy.

Key updates include more information about:

  • WhatsApp’s service and how we process your data
  • How businesses can use Facebook hosted services to store and manage their WhatsApp chats.
  • How we partner with Facebook to offer integrations across the Facebook Company Products.

By tapping Agree, you accept the new terms and privacy policy, which take effect on February 8, 2021. After this date, you’ll need to accept these updates to continue using WhatsApp. You can also visit the Help Center if you would prefer to delete your account and would like more information.

Will WhatsApp share my data with Facebook?

The answer might surprise you.

As part of this new update to WhatsApp Terms and Privacy Policy there is a line that has been removed from the policy note that said “If you are an existing user, you can choose not to have your WhatsApp account information shared with Facebook to improve your Facebook ads and products experiences.”.

This means that if you have using WhatsApp before 2016 you might have had an option to limit your data sharing with Facebook but going forward you will have no alternative to this. In fact if you missed this dialog before and forgot to opt-out then there is a very good chance that WhatsApp has already been sharing your data with Facebook (you just didn’t know about it)

Why WhatsApp shares data with Facebook?

In particular there is nothing to worry about right now since everything will work as normal just like you have been using WhatsApp before.

As listed on the WhatsApp Privacy Policy page, WhatsApp will share information with Facebook companies (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, etc) and may also use information shared by those sister apps and companies “help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our services and their offerings”. This may include:

  • helping improve infrastructure and delivery systems;
  • understanding how our Services or theirs are used;
  • promoting safety, security and integrity e.g., securing systems and fighting spam, threats, abuse, or infringement activities;
  • improving their services and your experiences using them, such as making suggestions for you (for example, of friends or group connections, or of interesting content), personalizing features and content, helping you complete purchases and transactions, and showing relevant offers and ads
  • providing integrations which enable you to connect your WhatsApp experiences other Facebook apps. For example, allowing you to connect your Facebook Pay account to pay for things on WhatsApp or enabling you to chat with your friends on other Facebook apps, such as Portal, by connecting your WhatsApp account.

This year has been about major tech changes in tech, e.g. the world saying goodbye to Adobe Flash, so we are not surprised to see this new update in WhatsApp Terms and Privacy Policy.

The good thing is that it doesn’t the user in any major way so they can keep using WhatsApp however they wish to.

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