Whatsapp further addressed this misinformation by publishing a FAQ. They informed users that they do not share personal information with parent company Facebook and how their messages are protected by end-to-end encryption, they further explained that the company doesn’t keep logs of users who call and message. Users have until the 15th of May to read and accept Whatsapp’s new policy. However, they have clarified that accounts who disagree with this policy will not be deleted or suspended.
Since 2016, WhatsApp has shared users mobile numbers and other information with Facebook except for the few who opted out of data sharing last year, whilst it was optional. Due to Facebook’s poor privacy track record and WhatsApp monetizing the platform from its extensive international user base, consumers have distrusted the app. Predominantly, concerns about how secure their data is and whether it will be sold to companies like Facebook has generated this controversy worldwide.
The update intends to communicate to users that Facebook servers may store their messages with businesses on WhatsApp, which requires data sharing between the two companies. Companies can use this data for advertising. However, Facebook will not share it across its apps automatically. The update’s release intends to coincide with new business chat features they began previewing back in October.
“The update includes new options people will have to message a business on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data. While not everyone shops with a business on WhatsApp today, we think that more people will choose to do so in the future and it’s important people are aware of these services,” the blog post reads. “This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook.”
More consumers are shifting towards data privacy, and once they feel exploited, they are willing to take action. Brands must understand that this shift in consumer behaviour means they are responsible for handling their information.