Facebook has gifted its customers with quite an unpleasant (and unsurprising) new year present beginning 2021.
Though, these changes did not appear as clearly in the notification users would have agreed to (or not).
As per the updates, users must agree to let WhatsApp collect all the information for service improvements. Also, users should agree to let Facebook share this data with its other companies and Facebook products, including Onavo, CrowdTangle, and Oculus.
It means even if you do not use Facebook, Messenger, or any other Facebook service besides WhatsApp, your data won’t remain limited to WhatsApp only.
As regards the type of information collected (and shared) via WhatsApp, the firm states in the FAQ section,
Facebook’s Hints From The Past About WhatsApp
While the recent move may appear a surprising decision from Facebook, it isn’t actually a new thing.
Facebook already made numerous attempts in the past to integrate WhatsApp with its main Facebook product. One such move happened in 2016 when users had to explicitly disallow Facebook and WhatsApp integration.
Then, in 2019, once again, Facebook’s owner Mark Zuckerberg expressed the opinion to merge Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
Though it didn’t explicitly hit WhatsApp’s security (or user base), things appeared to have started to change.
What Should You Do?
For now, Facebook has asked all WhatsApp users to agree or postpone agreeing to the updated terms.
However, this liberty is applicable only until February 8, 2021, after which, users must agree to the changes. Anyone not agreeing to the updates should be ready to quit using WhatsApp.
It’s because Facebook won’t allow the users to continue using WhatsApp without accepting the updated terms. And, WhatsApp will automatically delete inactive accounts after 120 days of inactivity.
So, the next move is pretty clear for all users. At the moment, Facebook hasn’t introduced any change or compromise to WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption. But they have certainly taken a step that haunts privacy freaks.
Hence, anyone concerned about Facebook’s data collection practices has only one option left – quit WhatsApp.
Perhaps, that’s what many existing WhatsApp users have done recently as Signal experienced a surge in its userbase. The sudden influx even caused a temporary disruption in its verification feature that it fixed quickly.
Nonetheless, this switching of apps may be specifically useful for those who do not use any other Facebook product. Whereas those who already have their accounts on Facebook, Facebook Messenger, or other products, might already have shared data with the tech giant. Hence, it’s now purely a matter of choice for them to decide whether to continue with WhatsApp or not.
Do you plan to switch from WhatsApp to any other app? What’s your preferred IM app? Do share your thoughts with us