If you’re not accustomed to reading about Facebook, WhatsApp, and the issues that surround their users’ privacy, you may want to take a deep breath before reading more of this. WhatsApp has just announced that it will begin sharing user information with its parent company Facebook. This is a major U-turn and privacy conundrum for millions upon millions of users worldwide.
In 2014 when Facebook purchased WhatsApp, it promised that people’s personal information would be protected and kept private, but fast-forward two years, and today WhatsApp has announced in a blog post that it will begin sharing not only the names but also the phone numbers of its users with Facebook. This decision has supposedly been made to allow its more than 1 billion users to communicate better with the businesses that matter to them.
Facebook also intends to use the information to make better friend suggestions and include that information with all the data it has already collected to better tailor advertisements to users’ interests.
Up in arms
Needless to say, some users are not at all happy about WhatsApp’s about-face on the promises it made in 2014 or about the evil empire/Facebook getting its hands on personal information that was not directly shared with it.
Users on Reddit voiced their anger and frustration with the decision, with one user Redditor Rakajj saying: “WhatsApp just lost a user. Was just a matter of time once the FB acquisition went through. Guess it’s time to finally give Telegram a whirl.”
Gizmodo tried to sum up the animosity that many were expressing: “The sentiment that WhatsApp is an app that protects and cares for your privacy is no longer a reality. It was nice while it lasted.”
How to stop WhatsApp from sharing your phone number with Facebook
If you are one of the millions who are not happy about this, you have three options; well, four if you are happy to allow Facebook to receive your data from WhatsApp.
Option 1: Uninstall WhatsApp and try to find something else that will meet your needs. It may feel like you’ve been forced to consider this option, but I can assure you that it’s not your fault. You’re not the only one who is upset
Option 2: This is the easiest option of the remaining two. When WhatsApp presents you with its new terms of service, you will see a small paragraph of text that spells out what the app’s intentions are with regard to sharing your information with Facebook. Probably below the text, you will find a checkbox and an Agree button. All you have to do is uncheck the box to opt out of the agreed terms.
Option 3: If you have already agreed to the terms, it is still possible for you to opt out of the new ones. However, it must be done within 30 days of opting in. To do this, launch WhatsApp and go to Settings. Tap it, and look for an option with the title “Share My Account Info” and switch the toggle to the off position. This will ensure that you are not tied to the new terms of service.
What are your thoughts? Is this an invasion of privacy or a storm in a teacup?