Are you a WhatsApp user? Then you may have received a notification from the developer recently regarding some ‘Privacy’ issues. If you hadn’t bothered to read it, then here’s a summary:
It’s telling you that it’ll use your WhatsApp for targeted ads. In their words, “to communicate with businesses that matter to you too”.
HOWEVER, it’s giving you 30 days (until 25 August, that is) to decide whether you want to opt out of giving them your information for targeted ads.
While you’re allowed to opt out of advertising, you won’t be able to opt out of their data being shared with their parent company – Facebook. As you already know (or are accustomed to), anything you download or upload already ‘belongs’ to some tech giant, like in the case of Instagram‘s iffy clauses.
Remember that both WhatsApp and Instagram are owned by Facebook.
Most of us are already used to receiving spam messages (thanks, telcos), right? And if you’re on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve also just about gotten used to their ‘Sponsored Posts’. What’s new, right?
Ads on WhatsApp: Targeted
WhatsApp has already come out and said that it won’t put banner ads or allow spam on its own platform. But, Facebook will use that data to make friend suggestions and combine that data with the reams of information it has already collected – especially if you use the messaging service to communicate with other businesses – so that it can tailor ads even more specifically to your interests. It’s like a spy for ads. Scary.
What’s more, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic), Facebook is going back on its agreement to keep WhatsApp data private, so it’s violating an agreement reached with the FTC in 2012.
One has to remember that so far, WhatsApp hasn’t had any ads to date (unlike Facebook and most recently Instagram), and would require a new revenue stream (ie. advertising) since it abolished its annual fees in January this year.
WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger
Facebook already has its proprietary chat app – Facebook Messenger – and the tech giant maintains that those two entities will remain separate. However, the new crossover will allow both Facebook and WhatsApp to gain access to each other’s phone numbers to suggest contacts to be added as friends.
So even if you don’t use Facebook, you will indirectly be. It’s setting itself up to be an inevitable global social network.
While most of us in the developed world use both Facebook and WhatsApp, the acquisition of WhatsApp means that FB can also target nations where it is banned but not WhatsApp (as is the case with China), or gain access to areas with poor connectivity where FB can’t be used.
If you want to opt out, check WhatsApp’s instructions here.