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This article was published on January 6, 2021

Here’s what that WhatsApp privacy policy pop-up means for you

Here’s what that WhatsApp privacy policy pop-up means for you

If you use WhatsApp, you probably spotted a pop-up on your phone sometime in the last 24 hours, suggesting that the service has updated its privacy policy — and promptly clicked the button at the bottom to proceed.

If you read more closely, you’ll have learned that and users have until February 8 to read and agree to the new terms. Failure to do so would lead to WhatsApp deleting your account. Just to be clear, you can accept these terms again to revive your account.

You’re probably not the only one who may have skipped reading the new terms. However, changes in the privacy policy of a chat app with more than 2 billion users are noteworthy. The high-level theme of this new policy is to integrate better with Facebook‘s family of products, grant leeway for increased interaction with businesses, and gather financial data from users.
WhatsApp’s new privacy policy change popup

The app collects a lot of metadata related to the account such as the phone number, your profile picture, your usage patterns (features you use, groups you’ve joined, and status in the Story format), and device data.

While most of it is just restructured into different sections from older versions of the privacy policy, the company has added a section called “Transaction and Payments Data” in a push for Facebook’s various payment services to let you pay for different goods. And that brings us to the integration push.

Integration with Facebook companies

The updated policy says that WhatsApp may send you marketing material about Facebook companies. Plus, the firm will use your data collected from the app and other Facebook services for content suggestions, people recommendations, and ads along with service improvements.

Facebook has already integrated Instagram and Messenger for cross-platform communication. And with this new change, it aims to provide “integrations which enable you to connect your WhatsApp experiences with other Facebook Company Products.”

WhatsApp’s plan to work with other Facebook companies

Interacting with businesses

WhatsApp Business —  the service that lets merchants communicate with regular users on the platform, using additional commerce features — has grown quite a bit in the last few years, with more than 50 million users. To expand this figure, the company will let businesses integrate other services into the chat app. So, as a part of that, third-party apps (for example a customer support partner such as Zendesk) might be able to read your communication on behalf of the business you’re interacting with.

What’s more, third-party services you use inside WhatsApp may be able to get some of your information. For instance, an in-app video player may know your IP address. While allowing in-app interactions may add convenience to users, it’s important to know what information they’re giving away in exchange.

WhatsApp’s changes come on the heels of controversy that suggests the chat app collects much more data than Apple’s iMessage, if we go by the App Store’s privacy label. While the new privacy policy doesn’t have a direct impact on your usage, we might see changes in the way we interact with the app in long term.

You can read WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy here.

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