WhatsApp has announced that it will give private users information to Facebook starting at the end of August.
The chat company has told press that phone numbers and other private details will be shared with Facebook (WhatsApp’s parent company), and that WhatsApp users will start to see ads from targeted companies through the messaging service.
This has caused a lot of problems within the WhatsApp community. Prior to Facebook’s purchase of the company, WhatsApp refused to divulge private user information. Now, the company somewhat answers to Facebook, which means that some user details are no longer protected from the social network.
What This Means to WhatsApp Users
WhatsApp users will be notified of the policy change at the end of August. At that point, users can decide whether or not to continue using the service. If users continue to use WhatsApp, there will not be a possibility to opt out of the targeted advertising. It’s clear why Facebook wants this information. Targeted advertising helps Facebook’s revenue, which is generated by advertisers.
By showing users ads that they may want to see (instead of random ads), Facebook also plans to hold onto users. But some people use WhatsApp because it does not have ads. This is especially true in countries outside of the United States where messaging services are notorious for sharing personal information (WhatsApp was a kind of safe haven from ads for users for a long time).
WhatsApp has told press that the company hopes allowing users to connect with companies that they normally do business with with build stronger client and customer communications. For example, the company wants users to be able to connect with an airline prior to a trip through WhatsApp or see ads through WhatsApp for ticket prices.
WhatsApp users will begin getting text messages from targeted companies in the near future too. So if you use WhatsApp and do not stop using it, you will start to see text messages from companies pop up in your thread. This will annoy some WhatsApp users that are used to the platform being ad free, but it’s the course that Facebook has decided to take.
WhatsApp’s End to End Encryption
The newest version of WhatsApp includes end-to-end encryption, and WhatsApp has stated that users will still be able to rely on that type of privacy. Therefore advertisers will not be able to target ads based on what users say during conversations (a tactic that Facebook uses regularly).
Sadly, it’s not possible to opt out of the privacy update. WhatsApp promises that users will see only targeted ads, though. The new policy should go into effect at the end of the month.