WhatsApp’s Privacy Policy, Terms of Service update does not affect the privacy of your messages in any way, company says

After WhatsApp updated its privacy policy earlier this month, we saw growing concern regarding privacy on the platform, particularly after it was understood that WhatsApp will be sharing more user data with its parent company Facebook. This led to an online movement of users and critics appealing to leave behind WhatsApp and move to a more secure platform like Signal or Telegram. Now, however, WhatsApp has released a clarification on how the new policy is different, what has changed, how the new policies work for business accounts and personal messaging and more.

 WhatsApps Privacy Policy, Terms of Service update does not affect the privacy of your messages in any way, company says

Representational picture. Image: Reuters

WhatsApp has published a blog with some frequently asked questions (FAQs) and advertisement in a few newspapers in India, trying to clear the air around its updated privacy policy. “Our recent Privacy Policy and Terms of Service update…does not affect the privacy of your messages with your friends or family in any way,” reads the newspaper ad.

WhatsApp ad in a national newspaper.

WhatsApp ad in a national newspaper.

WhatsApp reiterates the end-to-end encryption of the messages on its platform in its blog as well. It says, “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.”

The new ad and blog essentially tries to highlight the difference between messaging with friends and family and messaging with businesses.

As per WhatsApp, on personal messages, it can not access your messages, or hear calls, and neither can Facebook. WhatsApp says it also does not keep log of who you message/call. The platform also ensure that it does not see your shared location or share it with Facebook. WhatsApp also says that it does not share a users’ contact with Facebook and the groups remain private.

However, it’s when messaging with business services, some of your information will be shared with Facebook. “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.”

This clarification comes especially because, at the time of the privacy update, WhatsApp had said that there is some information it will be sharing with Facebook.

Even with the Payment and Shopping feature on WhatsApp and Instagram, the company says your information could be used to personalise your shopping experience. “If you choose to interact with Shops, your shopping activity can be used to personalise your Shops experience and the ads you see on Facebook and Instagram.”