Why, WhatsApp, Why! App to Share User Data With Facebook

The popular messaging app wants to share data such as phone numbers and last seen status with its parent company.

Tech News
3 min read
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WhatsApp, world’s most popular messaging application, with over 1 billion users has revised its privacy policy. The instant messaging app which was bought for $19.3 billion by Facebook in 2014, has been extremely vocal about protecting user’s data since inception. This latest revision of privacy policy is in contrast to their original stance.

The app will share details such as your phone number, device used, last seen at, and geographical information with Facebook companies that include Instagram, Oculus Rift, Facebook and its advertising network.

WhatsApp clarifies no one can read user messages as they are encrypted end-to-end. Users also have the option of opting out of the information sharing with Facebook as they can reject the new Terms & Conditions and even if they click on Agree now, they will have up to 30 days to revise their position.

While WhatsApp itself will remain free of banner ads, the information, if a user decides to opt in, will help Facebook serve targeted ads through its other platforms.

You can read the new WhatsApp Privacy Policy here.


Privacy advocates and media observers are concerned with the development since Facebook-owned companies have had a troubled history when it comes to user’s personal information and data privacy.

Instagram’s revised terms in 2013 made users uncomfortable about the ownership of their content posted on the app. Facebook later clarified that you own all the content you post. And Facebook app itself has ruffled quite a few feathers over the years on the issue of mining your personal data.

While your phone numbers will not be sold to advertisers, Facebook wants to start a dialogue between you and businesses directly on WhatsApp. The notifications and messages you get from brands on SMS and/or phone calls will now start popping up as a WhatsApp message.


While this could lead to a rich user experience where you have relevant and timely information from brands in your chat, industry pundits are uncomfortable with Facebook wielding so much personal information.

World over, media reports don’t look positive for WhatsApp. WIRED’s headline says it all.

“WhatsApp Privacy Cred Just Took A Big Hit”

The report goes on to say, “There are also broader concerns behind the information-sharing.”

“WhatsApp is prized by those in need of secrecy, both for its previously hands-off approach to data and its mega-scale implementation of end-to-end encryption. Undermining the privacy of those who value it most could have serious consequences.”

TechCrunch, in an article focussed on how you can opt out of the new T&C says, “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.”

They’re referring to your phone number and the information about the last time you used the app.


How to Opt Out of WhatsApp Sharing Your Data

The instant messaging company is informing users about the updated privacy policies through its app in the form of a notification. You get the option to either Agree or Decline the policies on offer, by tapping on the Read more button.

The message reads as:

Share my WhatsApp account information with Facebook to improve my Facebook ads and product experiences. Your chats and phone number will not be shared onto Facebook regardless of the setting
Whatsapp message

Once you go through this message, you’ll see a check box right at the end. Users can uncheck the box to decline WhatsApp’s permission to share their numbers.

However, if you somehow miss the check box and Agree to the conditions, here’s how you can still undo it.

  • Go to Settings on WhatsApp
  • Head over to the Account page
  • Uncheck the box where it says Share my Account info.

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