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WhatsApp chats are encrypted so how will Facebook use chat data for ads? This is how

WhatsApp has added a new section on its FAQ page where it mentions that "that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way."

twitter-logoManas Tiwari | January 12, 2021 | Updated 10:55 IST
WhatsApp policy
The updated policy said that to receive services from the Facebook Companies, WhatsApp shares the information it has about you as described in the “Information We Collect” section.

Highlights

  • WhatsApp clarifies on new policy.
  • Facebook may introduce ads with WhatsApp button.
  • Users will directly be able to reach Facebook businesses on WhatsApp.

WhatsApp has posted a clarification on its updated policy, reassuring users that their messages are secure and cannot be read by the platform. The statement comes days after the instant messaging platform updated its terms of service following which users started migrating to other platforms such as Signal and Telegram. WhatsApp has added a new section on its FAQ page where it mentions that "that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way."

"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 statement reads.

While this means that your chats are end-to-end encrypted, the data WhatsApp talked about in its policy will still be collected. The updated policy said that to receive services from the Facebook Companies, WhatsApp shares the information it has about you as described in the "Information We Collect" section of the Privacy Policy.

This information may include the phone number you verified when you signed up for WhatsApp, some of your device information (your device identifiers associated with the same device or account, operating system version, app version, platform information, your mobile country code and network code, and flags to enable tracking of the update acceptance and control choices), and some of your usage information (when you last used WhatsApp and the date you first registered your account, and the types and frequency of your features usage) on WhatsApp.

"WhatsApp also shares information with other Facebook Companies when this is necessary for the purpose of promoting safety, security, and integrity across the Facebook Companies. This includes the sharing of information that enables Facebook and the other Facebook Companies to determine whether a certain WhatsApp user is also using other Facebook Company Products, and to assess whether the other Facebook Companies need to take action, either against such user or to protect them," the policy had said.

What are Facebook companies?

Interestingly, throughout the updated policies, WhatsApp refers to products owned by Facebook as Facebook companies. This includes both Facebook, Instagram and other companies owned by the tech giant.

On its page, WhatsApp explains that Facebook Company Products are, together, the Facebook Products and other products provided by the Facebook Companies that are subject to a separate, stand-alone terms of service and privacy policy, including the WhatsApp, Oculus Products (when using an Oculus account), and CrowdTangle websites, products, or apps.

How your data can be used by Facebook for ads?

As mentioned before, while WhatsApp cannot read your chats or access your media files, it will still trace your activity on the platform and collect other data. All of this can help Facebook identify the businesses you want to interact with on either of the social media platforms. This will enable businesses present on Facebook to communicate with users via WhatsApp.

"As we previously announced, we're exploring ways for people and businesses to communicate using WhatsApp, and this could include working with the other Facebook Companies to help people find businesses they're interested in and communicate with via WhatsApp. In this way, Facebook could enable users to communicate via WhatsApp with businesses they find on Facebook," WhatsApp clearly states in its updated policy.

Apart from this, WhatsApp also believes that understanding how people use the platform when compared to other apps, will enable it to explore potential features or product improvements.

Lastly, you may start seeing ads on Facebook with an option to message them directly on WhatsApp. Those who have WhatsApp installed on their smartphones, will be able to message that business. Facebook will also look at the way users interact with these ads to personalize the ads you see on Facebook.

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