Whatsapp, the app that everyone with a smartphone and internet connection uses.

I don’t think I need to explain more about WhatsApp and the features of the app itself. In fact, I am sure that 99% of you clicked on this article due to the fact that you use the app yourself.

So without wasting much of your time let us jump into what you are actually here for, the updated “WhatsApp privacy policy” and what it means to an average everyday WhatsApp user, and how it will affect you as a user.

What is this new privacy policy?

WhatsApp recently went on to update its privacy policy on January 4th earlier this month and asked its users to agree to their new privacy policy before the 8th of February.

The new privacy policy update provided more information about businesses that use services hosted by Facebook to manage and store their Whatsapp chats.

It also mentioned how WhatsApp now partners with Facebook to give their users more features and integration through both platforms.

This does not come as a surprise for me and I saw it coming eventually, given the fact that Whatsapp is owned by Facebook themselves.

The new privacy policy also affects users with business accounts many of which use Facebook hosting services. This data sharing policy was actually in effect from 2016 onwards.

The difference was that Whatsapp never stated that it will share user data and personal information like private chats and group chats with Facebook.

The aftermath

Well I can say confidently that the new privacy policy was not well received by the users. The new privacy policy, didn’t affect or change anything for personal chats. But that was not the case for the users. The privacy policy caused some panic among users. The word spread like wildfire and more people were questioning the reason behind their update in privacy policy.

Let us say, the people who read the privacy policy did not take the ‘accept or leave’ condition very well.

To make things worse for WhatsApp, more people came forth questioning the credibility and their privacy of using the messaging app.

We all know how the internet works, more people came to know about it, and naturally more false information and rumor spread about the new privacy policy.

What came next was people asking to cancel WhatsApp and switch to other platforms like signal and telegram which did not sacrifice your privacy for messaging anyone.

Signal is a messaging platform just like WhatsApp but with more importance given to user data and privacy-focused. Naturally signal overtook WhatsApp for the number one messaging app in India and also took the position of the number 3 spot on Google play store.

Even public figures like Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla tweeted urging people to switch to Signal, and as you may have guessed the internet went crazy on it.

More people downloaded Signal which made the existence of WhatsApp at a risk they didn’t see coming. Telegram, the messaging app which is feature-rich and entertaining also saw an increase in users.

WhatsApp, your move.

With more and more people canceling WhatsApp and moving to different platforms, WhatsApp knew they had to do something quickly or they would be a dead app in no time.

They started off by giving out an issue of clarification regarding their new privacy policy and how it will affect their users.

Whatsapp stated that both them and Facebook cannot see user’s private messages and hear their calls, nor can access user’s private data like their contacts or images.

WhatsApp further clarified that they cannot see your location or the locations you share through the app, neither can Facebook. They also stated that WhatsApp doesn’t allow Facebook to access or share your contacts.

Although Whatsapp did clarify that their new privacy policy mainly affects business accounts and their interactions with other enterprise accounts through the platform.

Just like they said in their new privacy policy, your chats with your family and friends still remain end to end encrypted, but a business account will be able to use Facebook as their third party application to host and manage chats with business accounts.

WhatsApp business accounts can use Facebook services to manage chats and can be able to make use of this data.

For example, Facebook can manage a business chat and use this information to later run advertisements or target audience through Facebook.

What this essentially means is that messaging your friends and family can be different from messaging a business account that might be using third part to manage their business chats. These third party can include Facebook as well. The messages you send to a business account can now be viewed by more people in that enterprise, and is even visible to a third party that manages the chats and messages for the company.

Businesses can use any third-party hosting services to manage their business chats and account.

These hosting services are mainly used for fast replies, answer queries and seek help. Facebook itself can be used as third-party hosting services to manage business chats on WhatsApp.

Thus, basically what WhatsApp says is that Facebook can store your messages with business accounts for future references and other internal review purposes.

Businesses that make use of Facebook hosting services to act as the third parties to manage chats can make use of their WhatsApp messages according to convenience.

If for example if you buy a product online and the business uses Facebook hosting services, then you will receive notifications regarding your order placement through WhatsApp.

The information and messages you send to a business profile can be used by Facebook for other purposes like targeted advertisements and offers for similar products, provided the company uses Facebook as their third party to host business chats.

So if you had a conversation with a business account that makes use of Facebook hosting services, then it is highly likely that you see similar ads popping up on your Facebook profile when you log in.

Whatsapp also stated that it will clearly show if the business account you are dealing with uses Facebook to host their business chats. What the company had in mind was to make WhatsApp an E-commerce friendly platform for businesses to sell and showcase their products, much like Facebook.

In December 2020, WhatsApp had already started rolling out their ‘shops’ feature in the app, where shops and businesses can showcase their products and place orders through WhatsApp itself.

This feature was introduced to attract more businesses to use WhatsApp for their trade and commerce instead of depending on mainstream e-commerce platforms.

The feature of using Facebook to host whatsapp works both ways as well. When browsing through Facebook, if a business shows an ad with the option to message them through whatsapp, then the business uses Facebook to host their business chats.

WhatsApp extends their privacy policy agreement date.

With all this commotion and confusion online, WhatsApp knew they had to do something quickly. So before people stopped using WhatsApp and move to other platforms, they had to do something fast.

Obviously retracting the privacy policy was not in the talk. Instead, they decided to extend the deadline for their users to agree to the new privacy policy.

WhatsApp who initially asked their users to agree to their privacy policy by February 8th further extended the date to May 15th.

WhatsApp in their official statement said that they want to give their users time to completely understand their new privacy policy and avoid any unnecessary confusion among their users.

The company openly admitted that their new privacy policy had caused plenty of confusion and backlash from their users and wished to clear all confusion before taking their next step.

They said they wish to clear out any misinformation regarding their privacy policy and said that it won’t cause any privacy issues to their normal users who use WhatsApp to message friends and family.

WhatsApp is giving their users more time to thoroughly go through their new terms and condition and accept them without having any false information in mind.

WhatsApp believes that the false information going around about their new privacy issue will be resolved by then and people will better understand their policies. 

How will the WhatsApp new privacy policy affect you and me?

WhatsApp business accounts were not a feature that initially came with the app. It was a feature that was added in their updates. WhatsApp was initially launched with the simple idea of keeping in touch with your friends and family through texts.

Thus, naturally, not every one of us uses the WhatsApp business feature as well. Whatsapp has clarified that their new privacy policy only affects chats that you send business accounts.

To be more specific chats send to business accounts that use Facebook as their third party to host their business chats. This is not going to be an issue for most of us everyday users.

It is safe to say that our chats with our family and friends will remain end to end encrypted. At least that is what WhatsApp gives us a guarantee for as of now.

So if you are a normal WhatsApp user, then it is safe to say you need not worry about your chats and data getting shared to Facebook or any third party for that instance.