The End of (WhatsApp) Privacy?

Aug 30, 2016
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Written by Sydney Rae

The messaging app, Whatsapp, has recently announced changes to its privacy policy. Once a user accepts the new terms and policy, Whatsapp can share the data of its one billion users with parent company, Facebook, which has owned the messaging business since 2014. By doing so, it is alleged that Facebook is going back on their agreement in 2012 to keep user data private.

The Balancing Act between Privacy and Commercial Obligations

Privacy is important to users. You are not only taking an aesthetically pleasing photo of your brunch on Instagram (of course), but supplying the tech business with information about what appeals to you. User data is a massive marketing advantage, and one that the social network giant, Facebook, has put to use.

The change to the terms of Whatsapp’s privacy agreement is designed to improve the app and Facebook in a number of ways:

  • The WhatsApp blog suggests that sharing user data will improve their spam-blocking technology.
  • The transferring of user phone numbers and other data to Facebook also allows brands and consumers to communicate with each other. This means that users will benefit from notifications for flight-delays or delivery services.
  • Not only this, but Facebook will use the data for ad-targeting purposes and friend suggestions.

The claim to keep user data private, then allowing it to be shared and made public, has left Whatsapp users questioning their continued use of the app. The announced changes have led to data-conscious users changing over to messaging app competitor Telegram, a service renowned for its heavily encrypted technology and message security. An app Telegram that does not rely on an advertisement-based business arrangement.

Facebook has not commented on the change to WhatsApp’s privacy settings. However, they have provided 30 days in which users of WhatsApp can opt out of data sharing. Despite this, it is unknown how many users will unconsciously click ‘I Agree’ to the new terms and conditions without reading what they are agreeing too.

Let us know your thoughts on WhatsApp’s new privacy settings by tagging us #lawpath or @lawpath.

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