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WhatsApp makes data-sharing with Facebook mandatory
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[Image: whatsapp-facebook-privacy-update.png]

WhatsApp users who open the messaging client on their devices today receive an in-application notification that informs users about its updated terms and privacy policy.

WhatsApp is updating its terms and privacy policy, it reads, and it lists two or three key points and provides links to the terms and privacy policy.

Options to accept the updated terms and privacy policy are provided as well as an option to postpone the decision.

An option to ignore the changes or don't agree with them is not provided. In fact, users who don't want to agree to the new terms have only one option, and that is to stop using WhatsApp altogether as the changes are mandatory.

The key information listed in the notification sound harmless enough:
  • Information about WhatsApp's service and how the company processes the data.
  • Information on how businesses can use Facebook hosted services to store and manage their Whatsapp chats.
  • Information on how WhatsApp partners with Facebook to offer integrations across Facebook company products.
The notification that I received did not include the third option, but others have received it, e.g. as seen on XDA Developers.

One core difference between the new and the old privacy policy is that all users who accept the new privacy policy will have data shared with Facebook.

Whatsapp is a Facebook company, as Facebook acquired the messaging service in 2015.

Previously, existing users who accepted the revised privacy policy of 2019 could opt-out of having data shared with Facebook, provided that they did so in the first 30-days after accepting the terms.

The new Privacy Policy, which applies to all countries except those in the European Region, lists how WhatsApp works together with other Facebook companies, e.g. to better fight spam, abuse and threats, offer better security, or by providing integrations for services such as Facebook Pay. The European version of the privacy policy has been updated as well, and it seems that the key changes are identical for the most part.

WhatsApp does not reveal which information it shares with other Facebook companies or third-parties.

In any event, users of WhatsApp need to accept the updated terms and privacy policy to continue using the service after February 8, 2021. It is unclear what is going to happen to users who postpone the decision until that date. The most likely scenario is that WhatsApp will display a fixed notification that cannot be dismissed; in other words: users need to accept the terms and privacy policy before they may access their chats and data.

Now You: Do you use WhatsApp, or do you prefer a different messaging service?
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