When Facebook acquired the hugely popular messaging app WhatsApp in 2014, many users were concerned what the merger could mean for the privacy of their data. WhatsApp declared strongly at the time that it would not collect or store user information, but that changed this week when the company announced that it will begin sharing your phone number and analytics data with Facebook.
According to WhatsApp’s blog post announcing the change, the company wants to begin monetizing its service in much the same way that Facebook Messenger now allows businesses to directly contact users. By sharing user data with Facebook, WhatsApp said it would be better able to fight spam text messaging on its service, and that Facebook will be able to offer better friend suggestions and show users more relevant ads. On the flip side, on a positive note for user privacy, WhatsApp said that it will roll out default end-to-end encryption for all messaging on its service.
“Our values and our respect for your privacy continue to guide the decisions we make at WhatsApp,” the company wrote in its blog post. “It’s why we’ve rolled out end-to-end encryption, which means no one can read your messages other than the people you talk to. Not us, not Facebook, nor anyone else.”
WhatsApp users will have a small grace period to opt out of the data sharing with Facebook — but it’s still troubling that the company has seemingly backtracked on its original privacy promises.
Check out this post on WhatsApp’s blog to learn how to opt out of sharing your account information with Facebook.