WhatsApp Updates Its 'Privacy' Rules

The widely used messaging platform WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook and has more than 2 billion users, has in a surprise move, updated its privacy policy. Users are receiving this notice via a pop-up alert in the app, narrowing down on the new set of policies that are in place. This has stirred a huge debate about Facebook’s promise of privacy and keeping the user interest at stake.

WhatsApp has always said it has a commitment to security and privacy, with encrypted conversations and other important technologies integrated into the app.

But the new announcement has sparked fears of the exact opposite: that people’s information is not being kept secret. This means that users will need to agree to new terms with Facebook if they want to continue using the service after 8 February.

The really significant recent update is that WhatsApp has added new features to allow people to communicate with businesses and those businesses could be hosted by Facebook. When speaking to those contacts, messages might be stored and managed by Facebook and  those conversations could then be shared with the company more generally. 

The new agreement states: "As part of the Facebook family of companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, this family of companies... We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customise, support, and market our services and their offerings," it continued.

WhatsApp users within the European region, including the UK, are receiving a separate private policy to those elsewhere in the world, since what Facebook is attempting is illegal in the EU and the UK under their GDPR data privacy rules. 

  • WhatsApp say the move is part of the company introducing new payment capabilities to the app so that people can make purchases from businesses using it. 
  • The updated policy also says that WhatsApp may send you marketing material about Facebook companies.
  • 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.

Speaking at the company's developer conference in 2019, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said he believed "it should be as easy to send money to someone as it is to send a photo". Facebook has also said that Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp are being brought together. It said Facebook Pay would "be a seamless and secure way to make payments on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp".

Industry commentators say that Facebook has long sought to replicate the success of Chinese instant messaging app WeChat's mobile payments system. 

WeChat Pay is a popular method for cashless transactions in China and is often used in physical stores as well as online - something which has made it one of the most dominant technology companies in the country.The update will make it easier for people to make purchases and get help from businesses on the messaging platform, a company spokesperson said.

Sky:      NextWeb:       SlashGear:     Economic Times:     Independent

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