Pressing the “accept” button on the new terms allows WhatsApp to share all of your user data with Facebook. This may include account details, certain metadata associated with your chats, and location information that may exceed what your “regular” location sharing settings allow. Users in countries where WhatsApp Pay is enabled may have their financial details linked to their Facebook account, and even data about a user’s phone model, mobile network, battery level and other technical details will now be accessible by the social networking giant.
After Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, it gave users the option to opt-out of data sharing between the two apps. However, this time, no choice is being given. If you don’t want to accept the terms that come into effect on February 8, you have only one option: delete WhatsApp from your phone.
That may not be a realistic option for many people. WhatsApp has more than 2 billion users around the globe, a figure even more impressive when you consider that the app is banned in China. In Israel, WhatsApp is a ubiquitous and indispensable tool. A recent survey by GlobalWebIndex found that about 81% of Israelis said they had used WhatsApp in the past month, more than any other social media platform.
Facebook’s business model of providing a highly-targeted advertising platform for marketers means that more user data translates into greater revenues. By integrating data from WhatsApp into the sophisticated marketing profiles that Facebook maintains for each of its 2.7 billion users, Facebook can add more value for its more than nine million paying clients.
The change may also lay the groundwork for Facebook to start serving advertising on the WhatsApp platform, something it has patiently avoided. While the new terms of service seem to indicate that advertising won’t be added now, they leave the door open for it to add them in the future.
An update to the app made in December added a new feature that allows WhatsApp to send announcements to users in the form of pop-up banners. The update included other features that made it incompatible with certain older iPhone and Android versions that were installed before 2016. Users with older devices were advised to update their operating services or purchase a newer phone to access the app.
Meanwhile, WhatsApp is expected to be adding other new features that users will appreciate during the coming year. Tech bloggers at industry publications say that during the coming months, WhatsApp will offer voice and video calls via its desktop application; The ability to have a single WhatsApp account open on several devices simultaneously; and the ability to keep an archived discussion hidden from the inbox even when new messages are received.