By Chinenye Anuforo, email@example.com
Popular messaging app, WhatsApp, had last week asked its users to accept new terms that will allow it to share more information with its parent company Facebook and roll out advertising and e-commerce.
This development did not go down with most users, resulting in criticism and switching to other apps ike Signal and Telegram, as they must accept the changes or see their access to the service, which also allows encrypted voice and video calls cut off from February 8, 2021.
Facebook aims to monetise WhatsApp by allowing businesses to contact their clients via the platform and even sell them products directly using the service as they already do in India.
In the EU and Britain, the new terms only allow for the development of functionalities for professional users of WhatsApp Business, a company spokesman told AFP.
User advocates warned the update was not legal.
“If the only way to refuse (the modification) is to stop using WhatsApp, the consent is forced as the use of personal data is illegal,” said Arthur Messaud, a lawyer with an association that defends Internet users.
Since the data sharing announcement, more than 100,000 users installed Signal across the app stores of Apple and Google.
Meanwhile, Telegram picked up nearly 2.2 million downloads, according to data analytics firm Sensor Tower.
On the other hand, new installs of WhatsApp fell 11 per cent in the first seven days of 2021 compared with the week before, although it still amounted to an estimated 10.5 million downloads globally, Sensor Tower said.
In a new blogpost, the company said, “With some of the rumours going around, we want to answer some of the common questions we have received. We go to great lengths to build WhatsApp in a way that helps people communicate privately.” The post adds that the policy “does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way.”
It adds that the update “provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.” The detailed blog post answers questions around messages, location data, call logs, groups, etc adding that none of this data is collected nor is it shared with Facebook.
Messages, hearing user calls: WhatsApp says it can’t read your messages “or hear your calls, and neither can Facebook.” It reiterates that WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, adding that they “will never weaken this security and we clearly label each chat so you know our commitment.”
Logs of who everyone is messaging or calling: WhatsApp says “we believe that keeping these records for two billion users would be both a privacy and security risk and we don’t do it.”
Shared location data: WhatsApp makes it clear it does not see your shared location data and neither can Facebook. The post adds, “When you share your location with someone on WhatsApp, your location is protected by end-to-end encryption, which means no one can see your location except the people you share it with.”
Disappearing messages: WhatsApp is also reminding users that for additional privacy they can go with disappearing messages, which will be deleted from the chat after you send them. Users have to individually turn on the feature in each personal and group chat. The messages disappear after seven days.
Downloading data: Users who are worried about data WhatsApp is collecting can download this from the app. Go straight to Settings>Account> Request Account Info and hit on request report. The report is generated in three days.
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