WhatsApp, the company that owns the phenomenally popular eponymous mobile texting application, announced yesterday that it has decided to share some of the user information with its parent company, Facebook.
In what appears to be a reversal of the company's longstanding policy to strictly guard and honour its users' privacy, WhatsApp announced in a blog post that some information, such as phone numbers and when the service was last used, will be shared with the Facebook family of companies. WhatsApp claims that this change is being brought in to improve the user experience on Facebook.
Now, to its credit, WhatsApp is giving users a chance to opt-out of the data sharing with Facebook. But, here is the catch -- as an existing user, you have just 30 days to change your preferences. A new user will get to change this on the agreements page during installation.
Another catch is that even if you opt out of the data-sharing, WhatsApp will share some of your data with Facebook for product improvement, usage behaviour, fighting spam, abuse, or infringement activities.
Here is how you can opt out:
1. If you are an old user, go to the Account menu in Settings. There you will see the checkbox of "Share my account info". You need to un-check it within 30 days, starting today.
This seems like a half-hearted attempt by WhatsApp to let the user control her privacy. Despite this, user data will still be shared with another service, namely Facebook.
WhatsApp will also be bringing business messages to the service. It being said that there will be no banner ads but companies that you are familiar with might send you messages for flight information, delivery status, order confirmation and more. That would still put these messages in the category of spam for the users, as they already receive notifications, emails, and SMS for the confirmations.