What’s notable is that WhatsApp is openly providing details around user data collection and storage for the first time. This spells some significant changes that you need to understand, and it’s mandatory to accept the policy by May 15, 2021, to continue using the messaging platform.
UPDATE: At the start of May 2021, WhatsApp announced that you will not lose your account if you do not accept the new policy. However, you will have only limited access to your account.
There are three main kinds of changes coming to WhatsApp in 2021. They center around how:
- WhatsApp processes your data.
- businesses use Facebook services to store and manage WhatsApp chats.
- WhatsApp will integrate with other Facebook products.
So let’s clarify the answers to the most pressing questions you might have about this.
Why do I need to accept this policy?
If you do not accept WhatsApp’s latest terms and conditions, you will get only limited access to WhatsApp features post May 15, 2021. Your account will not be deleted, but you will see a persistent reminder to accept the new terms. So, you must accept the policy to continue using WhatsApp as usual.
To do so, whenever you see the new policy popup on your screen, tap on AGREE to continue using the messaging platform as usual.
What personal data will WhatsApp collect and store?
According to its new policy, WhatsApp will collect hardware data such as:
- mobile network, connection information (including phone number, mobile operator or ISP),
- your phone’s battery level and signal strength,
- app version,
- browser information,
- language and time zone,
- your IP address,
- device operations information, and identifiers (including identifiers unique to Facebook Company Products associated with the same device or account).
None of this was part of the previous policy.
According to the policy changes, WhatsApp can share almost all of the information mentioned above with Facebook. The terms clearly state that your phone number, IP address, mobile device information, how you interact with others and businesses, etc.
Why you won’t be able to use WhatsApp if you don’t accept the new T&C?
WhatsApp has made it mandatory for all users to accept the new policy changes. If you do not agree to the updates by May 15, 2021, your account will begin to get restricted access to features such as chats and calls. So, there are no two ways about it. If you want to continue using WhatsApp, you will eventually have to accept the new terms and conditions.
How do I maintain privacy on WhatsApp?
Well, from now on, your data from WhatsApp, such as your phone number, businesses you interact with, etc., will be shared with Facebook. However, your chats will continue to be encrypted end-to-end, so they are still private.
Can a third party access my WhatsApp?
Going by the official policy, third parties may access the information you share with businesses on WhatsApp. However, regardless of the policy changes, third parties can also access your WhatsApp account through unlawful means like hacking. However, this is a rare case scenario and not something you should worry about. After all, any app or device is susceptible to hacking. It’s just part of living in the technological age.
Will I see ads on WhatsApp?
WhatsApp has so far provided an ad-free experience, and the new policy retains this stance for the time being. It says that if ads are ever introduced, the policy will be updated again. However, I think it’s pretty certain that at some point in the near future, ads will indeed appear in WhatsApp, most probably beginning from the “Status” section, similar to how ads appear in Instagram and Facebook stories.
Does WhatsApp sell data?
Well, this depends on how you look at it. In a way, WhatsApp will be using your information to target you with services or products that may interest you. In the future, it will possibly use your data to show you personalized ads in the same way that Facebook, Instagram, Google, and others do.
Can anyone see my WhatsApp chats?
The short answer is no. WhatsApp chats remain end-to-end encrypted, so your messages are private for now.
What about WhatsApp Business?
If you interact with businesses on WhatsApp, they may provide the platform with information about you. The updated policy states that any content shared with a business on WhatsApp will be accessible by “several people in that business.”
This is undoubtedly a call to action to be more vigilant about how you interact with businesses on WhatsApp.
What about WhatsApp Payments data?
Should I delete my WhatsApp account?
If you are highly concerned and don’t want Facebook accessing your data, you should delete your WhatsApp account and use alternatives like Telegram or Signal. However, do bear in mind that deleting your account will not necessarily delete all your data from the servers. WhatsApp is vague about what data it will continue to store after you delete your account.
Are you going to continue using this messaging platform? Share your take in the comments below.
You may want to take a peek at:
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Mehak has a master’s degree in communication and over ten years of writing experience. Her passion for technology and Apple products led her to iGeeksBlog, where she specializes in writing product roundups and app recommendations for fellow Apple users. When not typing away on her MacBook Pro, she loves being lost in a book or out exploring the world.
I left Whatsapp when they announced the new policy a few months back. After being part of many friends and family friend chats for years it was upsetting to leave. I dont do business through whatsapp and i am wondering if they already collected all my information (even after leaving) if it is worth it to come back. I was hoping if enough people left they would amend the policy. I am still trying to decide if i just go back.
As mentioned in the article, it’s difficult to know exactly what data Facebook retains after you delete your account. They are quite vague about that. However, if you want to go back to using it, you’ll have to accept the new terms. This gives Facebook access to data such as your phone number, IP address, mobile device information, how you interact with others and businesses, etc. My best guess is that it is primarily aimed at targeting you with more personalized ads and services. So if this is something you don’t want to be involved in, don’t go back to using WhatsApp. However, if you already use Facebook and Instagram, it will not make much difference to not use WhatsApp.
As mentioned in the article, it’s difficult to know exactly what data Facebook retains after you delete your account. They are quite vague about that. However, if you want to go back to using it, you’ll have to accept the new terms. This lets Facebook gets access to data such as your phone number, IP address, mobile device information, how you interact with others and businesses, etc. My best guess is that it is primarily aimed at targeting you with more personalized ads and services. So if this is something you don’t want to be involved in, don’t go back to using WhatsApp. However, if you already use Facebook and Instagram, it will not make much difference to not use WhatsApp.
Thank you for a very informative blog. I don’t trust Zuckerberg at all, and don’t use any other apps or platforms from facebook, so this time it is good bye WhatsApp.
If I dont use Facebook, does this affect me at all? I only use WA for friends/family intl. chatting. What can they store on me that would be useful to them without linked social media accounts?
Also: how is your region as Whatsapp user determined. Is that by phone number? Or IP address? Or by where ever you are when you’re using Whatsapp? Say you’re a EU user normally, and think your privacy is protected by EU law, and you travel to the US and use Whatsapp there. Does that make you a US user then, so you lose the privacy protection?