When Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $16 billion (about £9.5b/AU$17.7b) back in 2014, it was inevitable that the two services would begin sharing some of your personal data. Today, that inevitability is finally coming to pass.
Why does Facebook want my WhatsApp information?
In short, WhatsApp wants to share data with Facebook in order to target ads and to provide new methods of monetization for the chat app. The app is currently free to use and features no ads.
Facebook wants WhatsApp to remain free of banner ads, but hopes to help businesses reach users via the app. For example, your bank could start messaging you about cashback deals or fraudulent spending alerts via WhatsApp.
Facebook is already experimenting with bringing brands and users together via chat with its Messenger bots.
WhatsApp also claims linking your accounts will help it fight spam and abuse, more accurately count users and offer better ads and friend suggestions.
Note that none of your messages will be shared between the services, as they’re 100% encrypted. This means no one but you and your friends are able to see what you’re sending to each other.
Facebook has been so bullish about keeping user chats private that WhatsApp has been banned in Brazil several times because it wouldn’t help decrypt user chats.
How can I opt out of sharing my WhatsApp info with Facebook?
If you only use WhatsApp and don’t have a Facebook account, you don’t need to take any action.
Should I link my WhatsApp and Facebook accounts?
If you’re happy with how WhatsApp works right now, you should opt out to prevent future targeted ads on the platform. However, if you want to use WhatsApp to interact with businesses in the future or to make finding friends on WhatsApp easier, linking your accounts will allow this to happen.
Privacy shouldn’t be a concern with this updated policy, as WhatsApp’s encryption remains strong, and Facebook will not request (or even have the ability to look at) your messages, photos or account information.
Perhaps a preferred route would’ve been for WhatsApp to offer a paid subscription service, like it did previously, rather than giving up some personal information to businesses. It makes sense for targeted advertising to be WhatsApp’s monetization model, as it is for its parent company. It’s still not ideal for users, though, who would prefer no ads at all.