WhatsApp publishes a FAQ to address privacy concerns relating to Facebook integration

WhatsApp’s recent announcement of the new, required data sharing with Facebook has attracted government scrutiny in Turkey, provoked outrage on social media and earned the secure messaging app Signal lots of new users. But now, WhatsApp is firing back with a FAQ that’s meant to assuage any privacy concerns that people may have been having lately.

Assuaging your privacy concerns

According to the FAQ, Facebook has received “many thoughtful questions” after updating its privacy policy. “With some of the rumors going around, we want to answer some of the common questions we have received,” it continues.

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Facebook says the integration won’t disrupt your privacy choices set in Facebook and on WhatsApp. Plus, the companies cannot see your private messages, hear your calls, keep logs of who everyone is messaging/calling nor can they see your shared locations or group chats. That’s because personal chats, user locations and groups are end-to-end encrypted.

But why can I not opt out?

MacRumors commented:

It is noticeable that WhatsApp has mostly focused on what data is not shared with Facebook, rather than what is. The FAQ update does not acknowledge the fact, as stated under the updated privacy policy, that WhatsApp shares device and interaction information, IP address and unspecified ‘other information’ with Facebook.

Small wonder WhatsApp is hammering that message home with posts on social media. Here’s an interesting excerpt in which Facebook claims that the majority the WhatsApp-Instagram data sharing relates to businesses that use Facebook’s hosting services.

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.

Messaging a business may be optional, but data sharing with Facebook certainly is not.

Revamped “Access Your Information”

Finally, the social network reminds people that they can request a copy of their WhatsApp, Instagram or Facebook data to see what information these services have on people’s accounts. On a related note, Facebook has overhauled its “Access Your Information” tool for downloading account data with several new features.

You can now search for data categories like “location,” browse new data categories and sub-categories, see how your data is being used to personalize your experience, and whatnot. To access this feature, touch the three-line menu in the mobile Facebook app and choose Settings & Privacy near the bottom of the menu, then select Settings → Your Facebook Information.

WhatsApp-Facebook integration benefits Signal

As we reported earlier, Facebook last week has updated its service terms and privacy policy in order to enable the sharing of a significant amount of customer data with Facebook , allegedly to help improve the service, personalize features, deliver targeted ads and more.

The prompt that greets WhatsApp users in the mobile app makes it clear that they’ll need to accept the new terms before February 8, 2021. “After this date, you’ll need to accept these updates to continue using WhatsApp,” it reads.