The new terms compel users to agree to share their data, such as their phone number and location, with its parent company Facebook and its subsidiaries. Failure to do this by February 8 will see the user forfeit their access to the service.
In its update released last week, WhatsApp assured users that messages shared between contacts are protected and are not accessible to third parties. It said messages are immediately deleted from its servers as soon as they have been delivered to the intended recipient.
Explaining the policy, the company said: “We collect information about your activity on our services, like service-related, diagnostic and performance information. This includes information about your activity (including how you use our services, your services settings, how you interact with others using our services (including when you interact with a business), and the time, frequency and duration of your activities and interactions), log files, and diagnostic, crash, website and performance logs and reports.”
This includes information about when the user registered to use the company’s services, the groups they’re part of, status, profile picture and whether they are online.
According to Forbes, the new changes will enable users to interact directly with businesses for shopping purposes, and for businesses to advertise directly to WhatsApp users. A WhatsApp spokesperson who spoke to the publication explained: “WhatsApp wants to make it easier for people to both make a purchase and get help directly from a business directly on WhatsApp.”
On social media, thousands – including Tesla founder Elon Musk – have endorsed WhatsApp rivals Signal and Telegram. Many said they would be moving to the two platforms because they feared their private information would end up in “the wrong hands”.
Tech analyst Mike Butcher tweeted that users cannot opt out of WhatsApp’s new policy and can only object by leaving the service for Signal or Telegram.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 7, 2021
WhatsApp will share its users’ personal information, including phone numbers, IP addresses, contacts, & more with Facebook from Feb. 8, according to the new T&Cs. No opt-out. The only way to object is to leave the service & move to a service like Signal or Telegram. https://t.co/FbGcq5T3JB
— Mike Butcher (@mikebutcher) January 6, 2021