All you need to know about the WhatsApp new Privacy Policy?

WhatsApp recently announced an update on its privacy policy and reached out to its consumers worldwide to consent to the new policy by Feb 2021. However, a lot of confusion and chaos started with many known celebrities deciding to put their views on twitter to move
to alternate platforms.

Misinformation and fake news added further to the confusion for users of WhatsApp with multiple self-proclaimed tech experts sharing views without reading actual policy and communication published by WhatsApp.

Given the dynamic scenario, India Future Foundation (IFF), a not for profit Cyber Awareness and Research working in areas of Trust, Safety and Freedom of Expression in India has decided to put forward an explanation of WhatsApp Privacy Policy and how it impacts Privacy, Safety and Security of WhatsApp users.

1. Can WhatsApp or Facebook see your private messages or hear your calls?

No, all your private messages, calls made on WhatsApp, photos or videos shared and even your voice notes are end-to-end encrypted. Hence, no one can see or hear it.

2. Does WhatsApp keep logs of who you are calling or messaging?

No, WhatsApp does not keep any logs of your calls or messages. While traditionally mobile carriers and operators store this kind of information, keeping this information for WhatsApp for over 2 billion users would be both a privacy and security risk.

3. Can WhatsApp or Facebook see your shared location?

No, Since the location shared by you via private message on WhatsApp is protected by end-to-end encryption just like your messages, voice notes and photos/videos. Hence, WhatsApp cannot see it and neither can Facebook.

4. Will WhatsApp share your contacts with Facebook?

No, WhatsApp doesn’t and will not share your contacts with Facebook or any other app connected to Facebook. WhatsApp only access the phone numbers from your address book to make messaging fast and reliable and that too with your permission.

5. Are your groups on WhatsApp private?

Yes, like your private one-on-one messages, group chats on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted too and none of your information is shared with Facebook or any other app. For that matter, WhatsApp use group membership to deliver messages and to protect
their service from spam and abuse.

 6. Can you still use disappearing messages on WhatsApp?

Yes, absolutely you can still choose to set your messages to disappear from chats after you send them. WhatsApp launched disappearing messages service in November 2020 to keep your chatting and privacy simpler and safer. 

The most important question is that if WhatsApp is not sharing this information with Facebook then Why this new policy and what exactly is WhatsApp going to share with Facebook? 

Back in January 2018, WhatsApp released a standalone business app keeping small business owners in mind making it easier for them to personally connect with the customers, and highlight their products and services. Ever since, millions of people around the world communicate securely with businesses of all sizes on WhatsApp, without having to leave their homes. To advance and support optional business messaging features, WhatsApp brings Facebook in the picture and both of these platforms work together in the following ways:

1. Facebook hosting services: Businesses have the option to use secure hosting services from Facebook which means that businesses can now use Facebook services to manage WhatsApp chats with the customers, answer questions, and send helpful information like purchase receipts. WhatsApp does not share this data with Facebook, but businesses (owners) will be able to use the data, if they wish to, for their own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook. Please note that WhatsApp clearly label those conversations with businesses that are choosing to use hosting services from Facebook to make conversation between the customer and seller transparent and keeping the customer informed that they are communicating with a business API Entity that has chosen to host their chats on Facebook. 

2. New Commerce Feature: With Facebook branded commerce features like Shops, some businesses will display their goods right within WhatsApp so people can see what’s available to buy. If you choose to interact with Shops, your shopping activity such as the types of products you view and purchase can personalize your shopping experience and the ads that you see on Facebook and Instagram. WhatsApp will tell you how your data is being shares with Facebook and what is it used for inside the app as this feature is optional. 

3. Discovering a business: People who use both WhatsApp and Facebook may see an ad on Facebook with a button to WhatsApp a business.With this new policy, WhatsApp makes it very clear that this policy is to advance and support more businesses in the world and are sharing only selected information with Facebook that too at your discretion.