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WhatsApp lied, of course it will share user data with Facebook

Published Aug 25th, 2016 11:25AM EDT
WhatsApp Privacy Facebook Phone Number
Image: Fast Company

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WhatsApp users were rattled more than two years ago when they heard Facebook was ready to pay $19 billion to buy the popular messaging app. The worry was that WhatsApp will share data with Facebook, which would learn even more details about you. At the time, WhatsApp made it clear that something like that won’t happen. But as it turns out, WhatsApp lied.

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WhatsApp will be sharing a limited amount of user data with Facebook , including your phone number, The New York Times reports. That should help Facebook offer better friend suggestions and deliver more relevant ads. Users will be able to opt out of sharing their phone number with Facebook.

WhatsApp also wants to make it easier for you to communicate with businesses – or is it the other way around? – without involving spam or banner ads.

The company said you won’t see ads in WhatsApp going forward, and that your chats will still be end-to-end encrypted. Facebook or anyone else would not be able to read your messages. “We won’t post or share your WhatsApp number with others, including on Facebook, and we still won’t sell, share, or give your phone number to advertisers,” the company wrote.

Here’s what WhatsApp’s co-founder Jan Koum said two years ago about what privacy will mean after Facebook acquires the company.

“Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible: You don’t have to give us your name and we don’t ask for your email address,” he wrote. “We don’t know your birthday. We don’t know your home address. We don’t know where you work. We don’t know your likes, what you search for on the internet or collect your GPS location. None of that data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and we really have no plans to change that.”

But Facebook will know a lot of things about you by simply getting access to WhatsApp data, however often that happens. Who knows what will be shared that.

No matter how you look at it, you can’t but be disappointed about WhatsApp lying.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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