Is It Really Safe to Accept the New WhatsApp Privacy Policy?

UPDATE

After postponing the implementation of the new privacy policy, WhatsApp will now start asking its users to accept the new terms after May 15, 2021. If you refuse to do so, a number of essential features (like sending and receiving messages, as well as making calls) will become unavailable. The only way to unlock those features again is to accept the new terms.

A few months back, WhatsApp announced a privacy policy change, causing a lot of confusion among its users. Considering that more than 2 billion people across 180 countries use this app, we now have an army of individuals concerned about their privacy. More precisely, people are questioning WhatsApp's new privacy policy - and rightfully so!

With that said, we are sure you have a lot of questions about WhatsApp's new privacy policy, whether it's safe or not, and whether you should maybe which to a different chat app? And, yes – we're going to respond to all those questions. More importantly, we'll clear any doubts you might have and dispel any misconceptions and rumors. So, let's jump right in. 

WhatsApp New Privacy Policy 2021 Explained

You're most probably reading this article because you've seen a worrying pop-up notification on your phone. That's precisely how WhatsApp informed its users about the latest update to the app's terms and privacy policy. 

Clicking through that notification leads you to a 4,000-word privacy policy, which we're sure many of you don't have the time to read. However, we've done that task – so here's what you need to know about how WhatApp's new policy affects its users' privacy.

Does the New Policy Affect Your Personal Messaging?

The majority of WhatsApp users rely on the app to stay in touch with their friends and family. Therefore, we'll first explain how WhatApp's newly revised privacy policy affects your personal messaging. And the good news is – the new privacy policy doesn't change how personal messaging works on WhatsApp. 

  • WhatsApp and Facebook won't read your messages or hear your calls. Keep in mind that the app will continue to use end-to-end encryption. That means the core concept of WhatsApp remains unchanged. When it comes to your calls and messages, no one will read or hear them, which means that your privacy remains intact (from that specific aspect, at least).
  • WhatsApp and Facebook won't log who you're messaging or calling. This is another thing that won't change – as no one will get to keep logs of your messages or calls. Therefore, you don't have to be worried about whether WhatsApp's new privacy policy will allow any company to keep tabs on you. 
  • WhatsApp and Facebook won't collect your 'shared' location. If you decide to share your location with someone via WhatsApp, that data also goes through end-to-end encryption. With that said, your real-time location will remain hidden within the app. 
  • WhatsApp won't share your contacts with Facebook (without consent). Upon setting up the app, you're asked whether to allow WhatsApp to access your contacts (to discover other people on the app). WhatsApp will access your phone's address book if you give your permission – but the app won't share your contacts list with Facebook or any other Facebook-owned app. 
  • WhatsApp and Facebook won't change how groups work. That means groups remain private, and any type of content distributed through any group is end-to-end encrypted. Therefore, any group's contents won't be shared with Facebook (not even for ad purposes). 
  • You can still use disappearing messages, as well as download your data. There won't be any changes to how those two features work, and they will remain available within the app. Use the provided links to learn more by visiting WhatsApp's support. 

Is WhatsApp Safe After Accepting the New Privacy Policy (for Personal Messaging)?

Yes and here's why. When it comes to personal messaging and calls, everything remains the same as before. If you use WhatsApp to communicate with your friends and family, all those communication channels will stay end-to-end encrypted. So, WhatsApp and Facebook won't read your messages or listen to your calls.

Does the New Policy Affect Your Business Messaging?

That's right – WhatsApp's latest privacy policy changes affect business messaging. These forms of communication exist between individuals and businesses that have a presence on WhatsApp. Those forms of communication will now produce data shared between WhatsApp and its parent company – Facebook. 

  • WhatsApp and Facebook can now see business messages. More precisely, businesses can use Facebook’s hosting services or opt for a third-party hosting service. In both situations, third parties can interact with business messages, as they aren't end-to-end encrypted. Therefore, WhatsApp and Facebook can now see those messages and may use them for advertising purposes.
  • WhatsApp and Facebook will see your shopping activity. A feature called 'Shops' allows businesses to sell items directly via WhatsApp through a Facebook-branded e-commerce feature. When interacting with 'Shops,' WhatsApp will see everything – and then use that data to personalize your experience across Facebook products (which includes Instagram as well). 
  • You’ll see more focused ads on Facebook. Of course, this applies to those with a Facebook account who decide to message a business via WhatsApp. Any type of interaction done through that channel will be visible to Facebook from now on.

Is WhatsApp Safe After Accepting the New Privacy Policy (for Business Messaging)?

No and here's why. Keep in mind that end-to-end encryption no longer applies when contacting businesses via WhatsApp. Instead, the app can collect pretty much any type of information and share it with Facebook and this company's products and apps. 

Looking for WhatsApp Alternatives?

WhatsApp built its reputation on protecting the privacy of its users – by offering end-to-end encryption. However, that rule now doesn't apply to the entire app, as certain (business) communication forms are now visible to third parties. Therefore, WhatsApp has started to distance itself from those same principles that made the app successful. 

That’s also the reason why people are moving to WhatsApp alternatives, such as Telegram and Signal. Both of those are 100% private and secure apps that encrypt any type of calls or text-based chats (which is what WhatsApp used to do in the past).

People are also starting to question how their personal data is handled on the Web, which is also causing a sign-up surge for encrypted email providers.

Should You Switch to a WhatsApp Alternative?

The latest revision to WhatsApp's privacy policy doesn't affect personal messaging. However, it affects the way you interact with businesses, exposing your personal information. If you're not comfortable with that, it's time to switch to a new (as well as a more privacy-friendly) chat app.

Conclusion

It all comes down to the following question – is WhatsApp's new privacy policy safe or not? Is this new privacy policy good or bad for your privacy? Well, one thing is sure – WhatsApp is no longer loyal to its core principles.

We need to highlight that there's no need to panic. WhatsApp hasn't yet turned into an app that exploits your privacy, which is what we see happen with Facebook. Your personal forms of communication remain private, and that won't change (for now). 

However, it's also true that WhatsApp has started to share more data with Facebook, giving you an excellent reason to seek alternatives. We've also seen many security vulnerabilities regarding WhatsApp in the past year, which is another reason for concern. 

So, in the end, perhaps it's time to start thinking about the privacy of your personal information online. And also, maybe it's time to show tech giants that we care about our privacy. With that said, we wouldn't blame you for deleting your WhatsApp account and removing the app from your smartphone and computer. 

So, what do you think about WhatsApp’s privacy policy? Have you switched to another app, and which one? Let us know in the comments section below. And, also – thanks for reading!

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