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WhatsApp has made widespread changes to its user agreement, with users now being urged to accept if they wish to continue using the messaging service to talk to friends and family after February 8. New data to be collected and shared with Facebook will include battery level and signal strength. WhatsApp will also share “app version, browser information, mobile network, connection information (including phone number, mobile operator or ISP), language and time zone, IP address, device operations information, and identifiers (including identifiers unique to Facebook Company Products associated with the same device or account).”
Is WhatsApp still safe to use?
WhatsApp has been owned by Facebook since 2014, and the two platforms have been sharing user data since.
Much of the data sharing between the two platforms was optional, with users previously being able to opt out of cross-platform sharing of information.
As of July 2020, WhatsApp shared users’ IP addresses with Facebook.
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The policy statement from last year read: “As part of the Facebook family of companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, this family of companies.
“We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings.”
However, it added that “you can choose not to have your WhatsApp account information shared with Facebook to improve your Facebook ads and products experiences.”
A line from the previous WhatsApp policy agreement also read: “Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA.
“Since we started WhatsApp, we’ve aspired to build our Services with a set of strong privacy principles in mind.”
This sentence has since been deleted in the 8,000-word document which is crammed full of legal jargon.
However, the new update means users will have no choice but to opt into sharing data with Facebook – or they will lose their rights to use WhatsApp.
WhatsApp will also share a user’s payment and transaction data.
The policy statement on WhatsApp now says: “If you use our payments services, or use our Services meant for purchases or other financial transactions, we process additional information about you, including payment account and transaction information.
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“Payment account and transaction information includes information needed to complete the transaction (for example, information about your payment method, shipping details and transaction amount).”
According to WhatsApp, the new update is “offer integrations across the Facebook Company Products”, which also includes Instagram in its arsenal.
If you already have Facebook or one of its platforms, then chances are Mark Zuckerberg’s company already has all the information above.
But if not, WhatsApp is giving users until February 8 to decide whether they want to continue using the messaging platform.
WhatsApp will remain encrypted, so other people cannot access your data.
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