The Facebook-owned messenger recently updated its FAQ section with new responses highlighting how it will continue to protect private messages, despite some rumors stating otherwise. It states 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.”
A new infographic shared by the company highlights that WhatsApp cannot see private messages or hear calls and, therefore, neither can Facebook. It also reveals that WhatsApp doesn’t keep logs of who users are messaging or calling, it can’t see the shared location, doesn’t share contact info with Facebook, and that WhatsApp groups remain private.
As far as conversations with businesses are concerned, WhatsApp clarified that some businesses on the platform will make use of Facebook’s hosting services to manage WhatsApp chats. Such businesses will be able to use the information for their own marketing purposes, like running targeted ads on Facebook. To ensure users know when they’re communicating with such a business, WhatsApp will clearly label the conversation in the app. The company further adds that it will utilize users’ shopping activity to personalize their Shops experience, and if users interact with an ad on the platform, Facebook may “use the way you interact with these ads to personalize the ads you see on Facebook.”
While these responses do address some of the rumors floating around on various social media platforms (including WhatsApp), it may not be enough to sway public opinion. What’s your take on this issue? Will you continue using WhatsApp, or will you opt for other messengers like Signal or Telegram after the new policy changes go into effect next month? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Update: WhatsApp’s FAQ provides misleading information about shared location access
“Location Information. We collect and use precise location information from your device with your permission when you choose to use location-related features, like when you decide to share your location with your contacts or view locations nearby or locations others have shared with you. There are certain settings relating to location-related information which you can find in your device settings or the in-app settings, such as location sharing. 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.”
“We work with third-party service providers and other Facebook Companies to help us operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services. For example, we work with them to distribute our apps; provide our technical and physical infrastructure, delivery, and other systems; provide engineering support, cybersecurity support, and operational support; supply location, map, and places information; process payments; help us understand how people use our Services; market our Services; help you connect with businesses using our Services; conduct surveys and research for us; ensure safety, security and integrity; and help with customer service.”
The policy clearly states that WhatsApp shares your location information with third-parties. So, if it is collecting shared location info, that’s obviously being shared with Facebook and other companies as well. If we give WhatsApp the benefit of the doubt here and believe the company’s claims of not collecting and using shared location information, the poorly worded and confusing policy will give the company the wiggle room to do exactly that without facing any legal repercussions in the future.
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