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Is WhatsApp’s new update (2021) the byproduct of Apple vs Facebook feud?

Is WhatsApp's new update (2021) the byproduct of Apple vs Facebook feud?

The recent update in WhatsApp’s privacy policy made it compulsory for users to share their information with Facebook if they want to continue using it. This came right after the Facebook vs. Apple feud that rose over iOS 14 new privacy feature. The new integration allows users to decide whether they want to allow an app to use their data/private information or not.

Facebook didn’t like this as it generates significant revenue (perhaps all of it) through ads and personalized marketing for businesses. This leads to tracking your activities throughout the device for a personalized experience.

While it claims to help SMEs worldwide, privacy lapses and data theft are no new blame on Mark’s web-based social platform.

Facebook and privacy lapses: An inseparable bond

This isn’t the first time. Facebook has been making the headlines for its breach of user privacy and data. The leading social media platform has been leading the list of privacy lapses since its inception in 2004. Though covering each of them will do an entire thesis, we’ll try to cover some of the initial lapses and Facebook’s reaction to them.

Facebook and privacy lapses
Credit: samaa.tv

Let’s have a look at some of the significant privacy concerns raised from time to time.

September 2006

Facebook had over 8 million users when it introduced the News Feed. While today we love the feature, at that time, it faced a lot of criticism. Over a million users found the feature intrusive and joined the protest. However, the team managed to settle it down by asking the users to relax.

December 2007

This was the first time users found Facebook making some severe breach in their personal space by introducing Beacon. Facebook Beacon created a lot of controversies soon after its release. The primary reason behind disruption was, once again, privacy. The objection soon made Zuckerburg release a public apology.

This was when Facebook was in talks with the Federal Trade Commission regarding its privacy and advertising policy.

November 2011

The social media platform finally agreed to go through independent privacy evaluation every year for the next two decades.

Sharing the judgment, the chairman of FTC, Jon Leibowitz, said, “Facebook is obligated to keep the promises about privacy that it makes to its hundreds of millions of users. There’s no point in entertaining the innovation at the cost of privacy and online security of millions of users.”

Besides the independent evaluation, Facebook signed an agreement that made it liable to a $16,000 penalty/day.

June 2013

A bug exposed the private contact info of users. A White Hat hacker reported the bug. Facebook instantly took action by fixing it and notifying users whose contact information might have got exposed. Not just this, they also notified regulators to ensure not getting into a bigger mess. Perhaps as big as the users whose info got compromised.

July 2014

In the year, Facebook conducted a Mood Manipulation experiment on more than half a million users. The experiment, conducted by Facebook’s Data Scientist, Adam K.I. Kramer started an outrage after the results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

He had to apologize instantly, and four years later, Facebook even took off the results.

Since then, not one or two, every year, numerous concerns have been raised by different countries across the globe. The social media platform had to step further to clarify.

Refining the data collection process: Facebook & WhatsApp since 2014

By the time these claims were getting settled, Facebook had purchased WhatsApp for $19 Billion. It didn’t take long for people to connect this acquisition with the social channels’ habit of collecting user data. The messaging app soon assured users through a blog post.

First U-turn

The commitment to keep users’ privacy secured seemed to fade two years after the acquisition. In 2016, WhatsApp, by default, began sharing user data with Facebook. However, they retained the opt-out option for users. The users were allowed to do this within 30 days of accepting the revised policy.

Coming to the present

Data Safety in WhatsApp

The year started with compulsion in the form of WhatsApp’s revised privacy policy of 2021. WhatsApp users will now have to allow Facebook to access their data to use the app. The privacy policy states;

“As part of the Facebook Companies, WhatsApp receives information from and shares information (see here) with the other Facebook Companies. We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our services and their offerings, including the Facebook Company Products.”

However, this policy offers some relief to the European region, as privacy legislation is more robust than in any other country.

What can users do?

The revised policy took the web by storm. The wealthiest man on the planet, Elon Musk, too, couldn’t refrain from commenting on this. He tweeted.

His tweet soon went viral, and Signal App started noticing a sudden surge in new signups. So much that it tweeted from its official handle;

Since then, it didn’t leave any stone unturned to ensure that it misses not a fraction of this sudden attention. Numerous other platforms like WhatsApp too dropped in to share their security and privacy protocols.

Whether to keep or ditch WhatsApp?

This bold step undoubtedly displays Facebook’s apprehensions about the possible plunge in revenue due to Apple’s privacy updates. Leveraging WhatsApp’s extensive reach, the social media platform strives to secure its stance.

However, several messaging applications are available with a more secure ecosystem. It is now on users to decide whether they want to switch to a new platform or continue with the current policy.

There may be a possibility where looking at the surge in other apps, WhatsApp callbacks some decisions.

What are your views on this?

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