In response to concerns shared by users regarding WhatsApp’s new terms and policy which was announced on January 06, the platform has published an official statement to address the issue:
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.”
An elaborate FAQ has also been released to counter misinformation that has been circulating about the policy:
We can’t see your private messages or hear your calls, and neither can Facebook: Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can read your messages or hear your calls with your friends, family, and co-workers on WhatsApp. Whatever you share, it stays between you. That’s because your personal messages are protected by end-to-end encryption. We will never weaken this security and we clearly label each chat so you know our commitment.
We don’t keep logs of who everyone is messaging or calling: While traditionally mobile carriers and operators store this information, we believe that keeping these records for two billion users would be both a privacy and security risk and we don’t do it.
We can’t see your shared location and neither can Facebook: When you share your location with someone on WhatsApp, your location is protected by end-to-end encryption, which means no one can see your location except the people you share it with.
We don’t share your contacts with Facebook: When you give us permission, we access only the phone numbers from your address book to make messaging fast and reliable, and we don’t share your contacts lists with the other apps Facebook offers.
Groups remain private: We use group membership to deliver messages and to protect our service from spam and abuse. We don’t share this data with Facebook for ads purposes. Again, these private chats are end-to-end encrypted so we can’t see their content.
You can set your messages to disappear: For additional privacy, you can choose to set your messages to disappear from chats after you send them.
You can download your data: You can download and see what information we have on your account right from within the app.
WhatsApp for Business has also been covered in this statement, with the platform stating:
“Every day, millions of people around the world communicate securely with businesses of all sizes on WhatsApp. We want to make this easier and better if you choose to message with businesses. We will always be clear within WhatsApp when you are communicating with any business that uses these features.”
Facebook hosting services: Messaging with businesses is different than messaging with your family or friends. Some large businesses need to use hosting services to manage their communication. Which is why we’re giving businesses the option to use secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions, and send helpful information like purchase receipts. But whether you communicate with a business by phone, email, or WhatsApp, it can see what you’re saying and may use that information for its own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook. To make sure you’re informed, we clearly label conversations with businesses that are choosing to use hosting services from Facebook.
New commerce features: People increasingly want to be able to shop from businesses online. With Facebook branded commerce features like Shops, some businesses will display their goods right within WhatsApp so people can see what’s available to buy. If you choose to interact with Shops, your shopping activity can be used to personalize your Shops experience and the ads you see on Facebook and Instagram. Features like this are optional and when you use them we will tell you in the app how your data is being shared with Facebook.
Discovering a business: You may see an ad on Facebook with a button to message a business using WhatsApp. If you have WhatsApp installed on your phone, you’ll have the option to message that business. Facebook may use the way you interact with these ads to personalize the ads you see on Facebook.