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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

WhatsApp clarifies: Nothing changes for personal messages; but not same for business chats

WhatsApp's detailed blog post answers questions around messages, location data, call logs, groups, etc adding that none of this data is collected nor is it shared with Facebook

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: January 13, 2021 11:05:44 am
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A new WhatsApp blog post on Tuesday has reiterated that it doesn’t share private messages or sensitive location data with Facebook, but clarified that some of the business conversation hosted with the social network might be readable and used for advertising.

WhatsApp is facing a trust-crisis after it issued an update to its privacy policy, which explains further on data sharing with Facebook, and how data is used when a customer interacts with a business on the platform.

In the new FAQs post, the company said, “With some of the rumors going around, we want to answer some of the common questions we have received. We go to great lengths to build WhatsApp in a way that helps people communicate privately.” The post adds that the policy “does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way.”

It adds that the update “provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.” The detailed blog post answers questions around messages, location data, call logs, groups, etc adding that none of this data is collected nor is it shared with Facebook.

But while “messages with friends or family” will not be affected by the change in policy, the same will not be the case with business messaging. The post underlines that “messaging with businesses is different than messaging with your family or friends” and some “large businesses need to use hosting services to manage their communication”. 

The post says this is why it is “giving businesses the option to use secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions, and send helpful information like purchase receipts”. It further elaborates: “But whether you communicate with a business by phone, email, or WhatsApp, it can see what you’re saying and may use that information for its own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook.”

However, WhatsApp says it will “clearly label conversations with businesses that are choosing to use hosting services from Facebook”.

Here are the rumours that WhatsApp answers around its privacy policy

Messages, hearing user calls: WhatsApp says it can’t read your messages “or hear your calls, and neither can Facebook.” It reiterates that WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted adding that they “will never weaken this security and we clearly label each chat so you know our commitment.”

Logs of who everyone is messaging or calling: WhatsApp says “we believe that keeping these records for two billion users would be both a privacy and security risk and we don’t do it.”

Shared location data: WhatsApp makes it clear it does see your shared location data and neither can Facebook. The post adds, “When you share your location with someone on WhatsApp, your location is protected by end-to-end encryption, which means no one can see your location except the people you share it with.”

On Sharing contacts with Facebook: WhatsApp says it does not share a user’s contacts with Facebook or other apps that Facebook offers.

Group privacy: It says that “group membership” is used “to deliver messages and to protect our service from spam and abuse.” The data is not shared with Facebook for ad purposes. Further, the chats on groups are also end-to-end encrypted.

Read more: WhatsApp privacy policy update: Don’t fall for these false claims

Disappearing messages: WhatsApp is also reminding users that for additional privacy they can go with disappearing messages, which will be deleted from the chat after you send them. Users have to individually turn on the feature in each personal and group chat. The messages disappear after seven days.

Downloading data: Users who are worried about data WhatsApp is collecting can download this from the app. Go straight to Settings>Account> Request Account Info and hit on request report. The report is generated in three days.

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