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WhatsApp is facing growing backlash due to a change in the company's Terms of Service (TOS), which comes into effect on 8th February 2021. The new TOS states that WhatsApp will share user data with its parent company, Facebook.
One indication that many users are leaving WhatsApp due to their recent announcement, is the massive surge of new users into competing messaging services such as Signal and Telegram. Signal in particular has jumped to the # 1 spot on Apple’s Top Free apps on the App Store.
In an effort to mitigate the damage, WhatsApp released a statement along with several infographics on Tuesday (12th January 2021) to educate the public about what the new changes actually mean.
In summary, WhatsApp notes the following points:
The company then expanded on each point, as follows:
WhatsApp cannot see your private messages or hear your calls and neither can Facebook.
Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can read your messages or hear your calls with your friends, family, and co-workers on WhatsApp. Whatever you share, it stays between you. That's because your personal messages are protected by end-to-end encryption. We will never weaken this security and we clearly label each chat so you know our commitment.
WhatsApp does not keep logs of who everyone is messaging or calling.
While traditionally mobile carriers and operators store this information, we believe that keeping these records for two billion users would be both a privacy and security risk and we don't do it.
WhatsApp cannot see your shared location and neither can Facebook.
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.
WhatsApp does not share your contacts with Facebook.
When you give us permission, we access only the phone numbers from your address book to make messaging fast and reliable, and we don't share your contacts lists with the other apps Facebook offers.
WhatsApp groups remain private.
We use group membership to deliver messages and to protect our service from spam and abuse. We don't share this data with Facebook for ads purposes. Again, these private chats are end-to-end encrypted so we can't see their content.
You can set your messages to disappear.
For additional privacy, you can choose to set your messages to disappear from chats after you send them.
TO ENABLE DISAPPEARING MESSAGES:
You can download your data.
You can download and see what information we have on your account right from within the app.
TO REQUEST REPORT:
WhatsApp goes into more details in a new section of its FAQ, where the company vows to "never weaken" the security provided by end-to-end encryption. WhatsApp also claims the changes to its TOS do not "affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way."
Instead, the new changes are all about how you interact with businesses on WhatsApp — businesses on Facebook will be given the option to set up WhatsApp chats with customers for things like answering questions or sending receipts, as well as the option to display their Shop goods for sale directly on WhatsApp. If you message a business listed on Facebook via WhatsApp after clicking one of these prompts, your data could be shared to personalize ads, according to the FAQs.
Do you trust WhatsApp’s claims? Will you be moving over to one of its competitors such as Signal or Telegram? Let us know in the comments below.
This is a developing story - refresh this page for updates.
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