The New WhatsApp Privacy Policy – And What It Means For You

One of the largest messaging apps around the world, WhatsApp, is changing its privacy policy, come February 2021. Although it’s not new for tech companies to constantly change their policies, this one particular change has started debates across the world about how much can anyone trust their data being stored on WhatsApp. So, if you’ve already accepted the new WhatsApp privacy policy, without reading it, you may want to read about it now.

Apparently, with the new policy changes, WhatsApp will be able to share user data with Facebook without too many restrictions; and not just Facebook, but all the Facebook-owned tech companies. This contradicts WhatsApp’s promise that they made back in 2014 when Facebook acquired the app, saying they want to know as little as possible about any user.

Some of the information WhatsApp will be collecting will include IP Address, phone model, OS, battery levels, time zone, language, ISP, signal strength browser information, and even the phone’s IMEI. So even if you don’t have any location services activated, Facebook will still be able to gather your location data through tracking your IP Address. There will also be a collection of personal data such as how you’re interacting with people, how you communicate in groups, which groups you’re a part of, your profile picture, last online status, etc. This means the data of pretty much everything you do is going to get collected by WhatsApp and distributed to Facebook.

Data Whatsapp Collects

Reports show that WhatsApp will also be collecting data about any payment you perform through the app. Although the platform’s authorities state this information will only be collected for analytics purposes, there is no doubt the app will provide its unique identifiers to Facebook companies.

There are no changes in the app’s end-to-end encryption security options, but that just saves your data from being shared with third-party users like external sources and hackers, Facebook itself is excluded from that list since it is the parent company behind WhatsApp.

The WhatsApp privacy policy is urging debates among social media platforms on the authenticity of the app, and a lot of people are thinking that the only option they have is to delete WhatsApp entirely from their phones and log out of their accounts. That’s true, but only partly. It is true that WhatsApp will no longer be able to track your future data if you delete your account, but all your previous data, the groups you’re a part of, and every chat you have with another person, who has a copy of those chats, will still be available to WhatsApp. So deleting the messaging platform means you’ll only be blocking it from tracking any activities you perform in the future, not prevent access to past activities.

Many users are shifting to other messaging apps, with influencers and even celebrities urging people to download apps like Signal, etc if they don’t want any more of their data to be tracked by Facebook. Users will have until the 8th of February to accept these policy changes, if you choose not to accept these changes, your account will be deleted, although your data won’t be.

Another concern is the business version of Whatsapp; there is a warning that once you interact with a business on WhatsApp, other people who are part of that business might be able to access your data and be able to share it with third-party apps.

Whatsapp terms and privacy policy update

Despite the backlash being faced by the platform, there doesn’t seem to be much concern from Facebook over even WhatsApp on the protests. Recently, Facebook also had a quarrel with Apple over iOS 14’s user data policies. And now this WhatsApp fiasco.

The policy might be filled with legal and tech jargon for people to understand, but this is the whole truth on the changes: whatever private freedom WhatsApp had, is now over. There is no doubt that the app is now purely a Facebook product, and anyone who is concerned about their data being tracked will now have to shift to another platform with more privacy.

Maha Abdul Rehman

A content writer and a psychology major, I procrastinate for 6 months or write consecutively. And I occasionally watch (see: obsess about) Football.

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