Given how Facebook has used users’ personal data in the past – the social network was caught manipulating users’ emotions back in 2014 by bombarding some people’s News Feed with an onslaught of upsetting posts so that Facebook’s on-staff data scientist could see whether the website could materially impact someone’s emotions in real-life – it’s not difficult to see why WhatsApp users are concerned.
And given that WhatsApp, one of the first messaging apps to support end-to-end encryption and championed privacy, is used by people to talk to friends and family – the text messages, photos, videos, and PDFs shared within the app are not necessarily data points you want Facebook to analyse.
READ MORE: Don’t panic: WhatsApp isn’t dropping support for these iPhone models
While there have been calls from high-profile people, such as Elon Musk, to use Signal for all of their chat app needs. After WhatsApp revealed the upcoming privacy and terms changes, Musk simply tweeted: “Use Signal”.
The app’s official Twitter account not long afterwards reported a huge increase in the number of new users registering.
To stop the flood of WhatsApp users leaving the messaging platform, WhatsApp has gone into damage-limitation mode. It has issued a new message to attempt to clarify what exactly is changing with the new terms.
The official WhatsApp Twitter account posted: “We want to address some rumors and be 100% clear we continue to protect your private messages with end-to-end encryption.”
Alongside this was a graphic saying ‘WhatsApp Protects and Secures Your Private Messages’, which lists how the firm does this. WhatsApp emphasised that they cannot see a user’s private message or hear their calls, and neither can Facebook. And they added that WhatsApp does not share contact information with Facebook, nor do they have access to a user’s location and neither does their parent company.
DON’T MISS: WhatsApp users face block but here’s better news on the horizon
WhatsApp users warned of new ‘hacking’ scam ahead of New Years Eve
WhatsApp reveals huge news as more changes are set to arrive
“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.”
In terms of the information WhatsApp does share with Facebook, here’s what the chat app has to say: “WhatsApp currently shares certain categories of information with Facebook Companies.
WhatsApp has already confirmed that users in the UK and Europe won’t be impacted by these upcoming data sharing changes. However, users in these regions will still have to agree to new terms if they want to continue using the app.