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If you haven’t been living under a rock, you would know that WhatsApp has faced a lot of backlash over its updated privacy policy over the past week. The company will start sharing data with its parent company, Facebook, next month and there’s no way out of it. You have to accept the terms or lose access to WhatsApp.

WhatsApp and Other Social Media Apps

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.

WhatsApp Clarifies its Privacy Policy Update

Individual and Group chats are Encrypted

Through an official FAQ page, WhatsApp has decided to clear the doubts surrounding its updated privacy policy. “We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way,” says the messaging giant. It still protects your private messages with end-to-end encryption, as reiterated in the tweet you see below.

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.

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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.

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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

WhatsApp says it has updated its terms to be more transparent about the data it uses or collects from users. It brings changes to how businesses can handle data. So, the big question is – what data is WhatsApp planning to share with Facebook? Well, if you’ve read the updated privacy policy, you will know that businesses can store your messages and it can use the same for marketing purposes. If a business uses a third-party hosting service then they also gain access to data, which in turn can share your data with their partners. Facebook is trying to avoid this and fix this privacy loophole by offering businesses to use its own hosting services.

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.

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