WhatsApp announced in August that they were changing their terms and conditions to make way for their plans to help users communicate with businesses using the app. A major part of this involves WhatsApp sharing user data with their parent company Facebook. Once a user accepts the new terms and conditions, Facebook receives the user’s phone number as well as information on the last time the user actually used the app.
WhatsApp is still head strong on their end-to-end encrypted messaging which means that only the people you message can read the messages, not even WhatsApp or Facebook can read them. This privacy feature is what has given the app most of it’s value among users.
WhatsApp published a blog post discussing the concerns users might have with this update, but they assured users that this is to better serve them in the fight against abuse and spam and also by providing more relevance.
Companies sharing data across interfaces makes users uneasy. But is this really so bad? I think everyone can agree that there is no harm in letting these companies keep better track of their users, and surely we can all agree to getting help with the fight against spam and abuse. The real issue here is that the Facebook family of companies are sharing data to help businesses reach target audiences which means businesses have access to information about us so they can try to sell us things.
Now I know that doesn’t sound too great, but again is this really so bad? Chances are Facebook already has your phone number from your actual Facebook account anyway. And the analysis of all this data doesn’t mean that there will be more ads, but that the ads we see already will be more interesting to us. Now isn’t that a good thing?
As a user, if I am going to see ads they might as well contain things I like. As a consumer, seeing an interesting and informational video about a new product or service that is available, affordable, and that I am actually in need of is something that I am very interested in. If this is what Facebook is trying to achieve by analyzing my profile, then by all means analyze away.
And for those of you who disagree, you can always opt out of these features through your privacy settings.