Facebook’s Plan To Merge WhatsApp’s Data To Face Another Setback

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Facebook’s stalled plans to take advantage of WhatsApp’s user data are about to trip on another regulatory bump in Europe, according to Bloomberg. When regulators meet next month, the social media giant will possibly face “additional action” over using WhatsApp data for its own advertising purposes, said Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, head of France’s data privacy authority CNIL.

Merging WhatsApp’s data not “necessarily welcomed”

In an interview in Paris, Falque-Pierrotin, who also heads a panel of privacy watchdogs in Europe, said, “Looking at the evidence we have, the companies have stopped merging data but possibly not for all WhatsApp services. It’s probably a bit more complicated than that.”

After European privacy regulators warned last month about the sharing of the messaging service’s user data for purposes not included in the terms of service and privacy policy, the tech giant suspended its policy shift. Falque-Pierrotin said the social media giant’s response to the letter, however, needs a much closer look, notes Bloomberg.

The EU’s 28 privacy commissioners, who meet regularly for their so-called Article 29 Working Party, coordinated their actions against the social media giant and asked it in their October letter to better explain its plans. Falque-Pierrotin said they told the U.S. firm that such a merging of data is not “necessarily welcomed.”

Merging WhatsApp’s data good for Facebook and advertisers

In a statement to Bloomberg, Facebook said the policy and terms updates of the messaging service comply with the law and clearly explain the choices regarding how personal data is used and how the service works. The California-based technology giant said the updates comply with the applicable laws and guidelines issued by European regulators as well. Further, the U.S. firm said it hopes to continue talks with EU regulators and remains open to working with them to address their questions.

EMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson said merging WhatsApp’s data with its own is important to the social network because it allows the social media giant to offer advertisers a single entry into multiple platforms. In other words, it improves efficiency. It also opens new business opportunities because cross-analyzing data gives advertisers proper ammunition to target their users on each platform in a better way.

Since Mark Zuckerberg’s firm acquired the messaging giant for around $22 billion in 2014, this merging of WhatsApp’s data is the first big step toward monetizing the platform.

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