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Here’s your data WhatsApp intends to share with Facebook

WhatsApp newly updated its privacy policy in which it plans to share its users’ data with Facebook, its parent company.

While it seems like the policy was updated on Monday 4 January for the first time, the reality is when WhatsApp launched a major update to its privacy policy in August 2016, it started sharing user information and metadata with Facebook.

WhatsApp, at that time, gave its users 30 days to opt-out of at least some of the sharing and the messaging services were willing to honor the decision.

The difference with the Monday update is that users do not have the option of 30 days and should they decide to opt-out of the policy, they would not be able to use WhatsApp come February 8.

Some experts have also described the change in policy as a move toward greater transparency – WhatsApp may have already been sharing your data since August 2016 – but this time around the company is letting you know the scope of the data involved.

“WhatsApp works and shares information with the other Facebook Companies to receive services like infrastructure, technology, and systems that help us provide and improve WhatsApp and to keep WhatsApp and the other Facebook companies safe and secure. When we receive services from the Facebook Companies, the information we share with them is used to help WhatsApp in accordance with our instructions,” a statement from WhatsApp read.

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So what does the policy require of you?

First, you must know there is a policy for users in European regions and those outside the region. It is probably in recognition of the stringent GDPR. The difference however is not marked, just a few adjustments to ensure that the company is compliant with the GDPR.

Basic information

For users outside the European region, the information WhatsApp will be taking from you and sharing with Facebook include the phone number and basic information (including a profile name of your device) you used to create the account. Adding a profile picture and ‘about’ information is optional but it forms part of the data you are approving for WhatsApp to share with Facebook.

WhatsApp says the messages you type and exchange with people are not part of the data it has access to.

“We do not retain your messages in the ordinary course of providing our services to you. Instead, your messages are stored on your device and not typically stored on our servers. Once your messages are delivered, they are deleted from our servers,” the company said.

WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption, which means that your messages are encrypted to keep the company or any third party away from reading them.

Your mobile connections

While opening your account you had to grant WhatsApp access to the phone numbers in your address book on a regular basis, including those that are already using the service. WhatsApp says for the contacts that are not yet on WhatsApp which it is able to access on your phone, it manages the information in such a way that it cannot identify those contacts. But the contacts whose users are on WhatsApp also form data it collects and shares with Facebook companies.

“As part of the Facebook Companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, the other Facebook companies,” WhatsApp explained in its updated policy. “We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our services and their offerings, including the Facebook company products.”

Status information

While the pictures or posts are supposed to end in exactly 24 hours, it is part of the information WhatsApp has access to.

Usage and log information

WhatsApp collects information about your activity on the app. The information may include your activity such as how you use the service, service settings, how you interact with others using the app, particularly with a business, and the time, frequency, and duration of your activities and interactions log files, and diagnostic, crash, website, and performance logs and reports.

WhatsApp also collates data on information about when you registered to use its services: the features you use like messaging, calling, Status, groups (group name, group picture, group description), payments or business features: profile photo, ‘about’ information: whether you are online, when you last used the app: and when you last updated your ‘about’ information.

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