WhatsApp Makes a U Turn, Will share Your Contact List with Facebook, Fortunately Power Still lies in Your Hands


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When Facebook bought WhatsApp two years back, critics argued that Facebook’s marketing algorithm is going to steal data from WhatsApp and users’ accounts. In a report, WhatsApp fared the worst in the terms of security and Facebook’s acquisition just made it worst.

In January this year, WhatsApp agreed to share user account data with Facebook for its long term goals of generating massive marketing revenues and target individuals. Although WhatsApp won’t have ads on its application, Facebook can use WhatsApp’s data to improve its own potential.

However, WhatsApp’s founders are very particular about user information and are thus giving everyone 30 days to choose whether Facebook should access their data or not. You still have about a month to check the box if you want to share your contacts with the software giant or not.

Facebook can also possibly track usage information to choose the content of ads displayed to you. It is not very clear how Facebook will be using such information to improve its algorithm but we’ll leave it to the company to figure out. Facebook will still not be able to glance your messages since all the texts are encrypted.

The blog post mentions that WhatsApp’s terms and privacy policy has changed for the first time in four years. This new initiative will be more focussed towards communicating with businesses and enterprises.

How will this affect you?

WhatsApp says that the information shared with Facebook, which will be just phone numbers and usage statistics, will be used to fight spam and track basic metrics about often people use WhatsApp and for how long.

The blog post reads, “And by connecting your phone number with Facebook’s systems, 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.”

The company has made it very clear that the phone numbers will not be shared with anyone else on WhatsApp or Facebook or sold to advertisers. Facebook will be updating its algorithm to provide you more relevant advertisements, which it already does using user’s browser history.

It is understandable if people don’t want to share their data, because today privacy is more than anything else. Cyber crimes are on the rise and today it’s just a phone number, but tomorrow it could lead to bigger and more complex problems.

How can you opt out?

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. Existing users who accept the updated Terms and Privacy Policy will have an additional 30 days to make this choice by going to Settings > Account.

Users who fail to remove the tick from the above box will not have an option to reverse it in the future. Facebook already tracks a lot of user’s browser data to suggest ads and content, and adding WhatsApp contact information further is almost like giving them your identity.

Do you think Facebook should be allowed to take account data from WhatsApp for improving its ad marketing algorithm? Let us know what you think about this development by commenting below.

Source: WhatsApp Blog

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