After a real uprising by WhatsApp and Facebook users against the new terms of service announced on January 8, the company now wants to clarify – once again – the situation by showing its paws and playing the card of transparency displayed on the collection of our data.
WhatsApp caused an uproar among its users a few days ago with the announcement of new terms of service that are to apply from February 8. A mess at the communication level around the sharing of personal data with Facebook which could cost the company dearly, having gone into “damage control” mode to save the furniture.
WhatsApp therefore wants to make it clear once again that the new terms of service should not have an impact on the privacy of users when they talk to their friends or family. However, according to WhatsApp, it may be different for conversations with businesses.
WhatsApp clarifies the situation
In its attempt to answer key user questions, WhatsApp goes on to write that private groups will continue to be protected as well. According to WhatsApp, the necessary data is used exclusively for the transmission of messages and for protection against spam or abuse. Users can add an expiration date to their messages so that they are automatically deleted.
Additionally, the app does not collect information about who you call or who you send messages to. The company emphasizes here that it is ahead of traditional mobile operators, for example, which store such data.
According to the article, neither WhatsApp nor Facebook are able to see the location that could be shared with friends. If the application is allowed to access the address book, the data collected as part of this process is not shared with Facebook.
Finally, those who want to know exactly what data WhatsApp has collected can request that this information be downloaded.
WhatsApp Business: Messages can be used for advertising
While communication in private conversations is between devices of typical users, it may be different in business chats. On the business side, for example, a Facebook cloud application can be used to host WhatsApp conversations with said business.
With such a system, the content can be used for marketing purposes. This can mean displaying ads on Facebook or Instagram. In addition, Facebook stores can be personalized based on the user with this information. However, these features are optional, according to the company, and users would be notified when they interact on WhatsApp with a company using Facebook’s hosting services.
No data transfer between WhatsApp and Facebook in the EU
Unfortunately, the article does not specify to what extent the described business rules also apply to users in the EU. The outcry from users has already prompted company spokespersons to contact various media last week to clarify that there will be no change in WhatsApp data sharing practices in the European Union (including including in UK).
But concretely, this means that two scenarios could therefore arise. Either the company itself hosts the WhatsApp chat, which allows it to maintain the encryption and therefore the confidentiality of exchanges with its customers, or it uses Facebook to host the WhatsApp chat, which allows the social network to exploit the data exchanged by customers with the company in this single chat.
European users therefore have the obligation to accept the new conditions of use, in the event that they exchange on WhatsApp with a company using Facebook’s hosting services. But officially, nothing actually changes with regard to the chats of the users between them.
However, it is certain that WhatsApp will suffer from a serious loss of trust from some of its users. Its ambiguous communication and the obligation to accept conditions while “promising” that nothing will change will surely not convince the most skeptical users.
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This article was translated from German and then editorially adapted by Florian Philon. The original version written by Holger Eilhard was originally published on NextPit.de on January 13, 2021.
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