WhatsApp added that groups remain private and that it uses group membership to deliver messages and does not share it with Facebook for ad purposes.

A mobile phone with the WhatsApp app icon visible on the screen
Atom Privacy Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - 14:31

WhatsApp’s new privacy policy which comes into effect from February 8 has not gone down well, with many users looking to migrate to Signal or Telegram. The update to the privacy policy has caused a lot of concern, especially with respect to data sharing with its parent company Facebook.

On Tuesday, WhatsApp said that the new update does not affect the privacy of people’s messages.

“Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data,” it said.

It stated that it cannot hear calls or read messages, does not keep a log of calls, cannot see shared location and neither can Facebook, does not share contacts with Facebook, and that messages can be set to disappear.

“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,” it said.

It added that groups remain private and that it uses group membership to deliver messages and does not share it with Facebook for ad purposes.

It also says that users can download their data, following the steps given here.

However, it doesn’t address the information that it will be collecting. Information WhatsApp collects from you automatically will be shared with Facebook, such as the information you give when you create a Facebook account. Along with this, it will share user activity — how often you use WhatsApp, features you use, your profile photo, your status and ‘about’ information.

It also collects device-level information like what device you use, your mobile network, IP address, etc.

It also collects and uses precise location information from your device, when location is on, and info like area codes to estimate your location when GPS is off. WhatsApp says that when you share your location with someone that too is end-to-end encrypted, and the update to the policy is to help improve and support its services and Facebook’s offerings.

If you use WhatsApp Pay, information required to complete the transaction like the payment method, shipping details and transaction amount will also be collected by WhatsApp.

Your information could also be used by Facebook and its other products to make suggestions for you, personalise features and content and show relevant offers and ads across Facebook’s Products.

Read: Explained: WhatsApp’s new privacy policy and what you can do about it

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