This has enraged privacy-conscious users and is seeing them switch away to more secure alternatives like Signal and Telegram. This hullabaloo around its policy update has now forced WhatsApp to address rumors and further clarify its stance on data sharing.
Individual and Group chats are Encrypted
Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can read your private messages or hear your calls as they are end-to-end encrypted. The company doesn’t keep logs of who you message or call. It states that mobile operators traditionally save this information, but WhatsApp does not as saving data for 2 billion users will be a huge security risk.
We want to address some rumors and be 100% clear we continue to protect your private messages with end-to-end encryption. pic.twitter.com/6qDnzQ98MP
— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) January 12, 2021
Can Facebook See your WhatsApp Contacts or Location?
Concerned WhatsApp can see your exact location or contact list? And will it share the same with Facebook to better target ads? The FAQ page states that it cannot see your shared location. The messaging giant says the live location you share within the app is also end-to-end encrypted and only visible to the sender and recipient.
As for your contacts list, WhatsApp states it “accesses only the phone numbers from your address book to make messaging fast and reliable.” It does not share the same with Facebook. Your group chats are also said to be private and will not be used for targeting ads or abuse by third-parties. You can better ensure privacy by setting the message to disappear after 7 days. It is a feature that WhatsApp introduced earlier last year as an added privacy measure.
Data Sharing Happens When you Interact with Businesses
When you use the Facebook Shops feature, which is slowly being integrated into the WhatsApp Business app, your shopping activity (how to interact with products or any business) can be “used to personalize your experience.” This feature is optional, which means you will willingly not contact businesses to not share any data with them or Facebook.