WhatsApp has since received widespread criticism from users as it was discovered that the company had removed the option to opt-out of data sharing features that were present before. The Facebook-backed messaging app started releasing clarifications and detailed explainers on how WhatsApp remains safe for texting and calling.
“We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data,” WhatsApp said in a public statement after users started to sign-up to other instant messaging platforms.
What’s interesting here is that WhatsApp claims that it cannot see user’s messages or hear calls and the same goes for Facebook. It also does not keep a log of user’s interaction and says it cannot see shared location as well. However, this is where the company's explanation falls flat on its face.
WhatsApp goes on to say that, “Even if you do not use our location-related features, we use IP addresses and other information like phone number area codes to estimate your general location (e.g., city and country). We also use your location information for diagnostics and troubleshooting purposes.”
When it comes to Business accounts, the company states that all business using Facebook hosting services to manage their chats and customers may use information you share with Facebook for marketing and advertising purposes. So if you interact with a WhatsApp Business account in the near future, the information you tell the business could be used to show you relevant ads on Facebook or Instagram.
Overall, it doesn’t seem like WhatsApp is getting out of this debacle anytime soon as it first needs to instil some confidence in users by coming out and being clear as to what data points it shares with parent-company, Facebook. Otherwise, Telegram and Signal are already gaining millions of registrations, because one thing is clear, people are done with big tech snooping around their personal lives.