WhatsApp Clarifies It's Not Giving All Your Data To Facebook

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge:

WhatsApp has published a new FAQ page to its website outlining its stances on user privacy in response to widespread backlash over an upcoming privacy policy update. The core issue relates to WhatsApp’s data-sharing procedures with Facebook, with many users concerned an updated privacy policy going into effect on February 8th will mandate sharing of sensitive profile information with WhatsApp’s parent company. That isn’t true – the update has nothing to do with consumer chats or profile data, and instead the change is designed to outline how businesses who use WhatsApp for customer service may store logs of its chats on Facebook servers. That’s something the company feels it is required to disclose in its privacy policy, which it’s now doing after previewing the upcoming changes to business chats back in October.

But a wave of misinformation on social media, not helped by Facebook’s abysmal track record on privacy and its reputation for obfuscating changes to its various terms of service agreements, has resulted in a full-blown WhatsApp backlash that has users fleeing to competitors like Signal and Telegram. […] WhatsApp executives, as well as Instagram chief Adam Mosseri and Facebook AR / VR head Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, are now trying to set the record straight, perhaps to little avail at this point.

“We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. 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,” the company writes on the new FAQ page. It also stresses in the FAQ that neither Facebook nor WhatsApp read users’ message logs or listen to their calls, and that WhatsApp doesn’t store user location data or share contact information with Facebook. (It’s also worth noting that data sharing with Facebook is extremely limited for European users due to stronger user privacy protections in the EU.) WhatsApp chief Will Cathcart also took to Twitter a few days ago to post a thread (later shared by Bosworth in the tweet above) trying to cut through the confusion and explain what’s actually going on. “With end-to-end encryption, we cannot see your private chats or calls and neither can Facebook. We’re committed to this technology and committed to defending it globally,” Cathcart wrote. “It’s important for us to be clear this update describes business communication and does not change WhatsApp’s data sharing practices with Facebook. It does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family wherever they are in the world.”

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