Why WhatsApp’s New Privacy Rules Caused An Exodus

Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp has started alerting its 2 billion users to a privacy policy update, and if they want to continue using the popular messaging app, they have to accept it.

The new terms, delivered in early 2021, have caused outrage among tech experts, privacy advocates, billionaire entrepreneurs and government organizations, and sparked a wave of defections to rival services. WhatsApp says the change is necessary to help it better integrate with other Facebook products.

1. What does the policy say?
WhatsApp now reserves the right to share the data it collects about you with the wider Facebook network, which includes Instagram, regardless of whether you have accounts or profiles there. Much of the policy, which deals with the monetization of WhatsApp, is broadly in line with what came before, but now it clearly states that “WhatsApp receives information and shares information with the other Facebook companies. We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate and market services. The option to share data with Facebook has been around for years, but it was just that: optional. As of February 8 it becomes mandatory.

2. Can Facebook read my WhatsApp now?
No. Your conversations are end-to-end encrypted, which means that not even WhatsApp can access them. However, by using WhatsApp, you can share with him your contact list, location, financial information and usage data, as well as the unique identifier of your phone, among other types of so-called metadata.

These can be linked to your identity, according to WhatsApp in its listing in the Apple Inc. App Store, and it is this data that the privacy policy stipulates that it must now be agreed that they can be shared with Facebook.

3. Why does Facebook want the data?
It says it needs it to help operate and improve its offerings. More broadly, nearly all of the $ 21.5 billion in revenue Facebook generated in its third quarter of 2020 came from ads, and there is none on WhatsApp. The company wants to be able to offer more targeted ads to people on Facebook and Instagram by also knowing their usage habits on WhatsApp and by allowing companies to accept payments on WhatsApp for items that, for example, were clicked on in Instagram ads.

4. What are the consequences?
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s media office and his country’s Defense Ministry said they are abandoning WhatsApp. Tech billionaire Elon Musk endorsed the rival app Signal for his 42 million Twitter Inc. followers. Signal’s registration service crashed after an influx of new users overwhelmed its servers. On January 10, he tweeted: “We continue to break traffic records and add capacity as more and more people accept how much they dislike Facebook’s new terms.”

5. Is politics the same worldwide?
No. There is a difference in the text of Europe compared to the rest of the world. In the US, for example, WhatsApp explicitly says it wants to allow users to start connecting their Facebook Pay account “to pay for things on WhatsApp” and to be able to chat with friends on other Facebook products, like Portal, ” by connecting your WhatsApp account “. This text does not appear in the version applicable to Europe.

6. Why is Europe treated differently?
European data protection authorities, which under the strict privacy laws of the European Union are empowered to fine companies up to 4% of global annual revenue if they violate the block’s rules, in 2016 expressed “serious concerns” on the sharing of WhatsApp user data.

EU antitrust authorities in 2017 fined Facebook 110 million euros (US $ 134 million) for misleading regulators during a 2014 review of the WhatsApp acquisition, but failed to revoke approval of the merger. Facebook had told EU regulators during the review that it was technically not possible to combine WhatsApp data with its other services.

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