There’s no question that tech corps around the world’s new currency is data. Personal data, in fact. It’s obvious that’s what Facebook as a company has increasingly pursued for years with the help of its three social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Today, Facebook is forcing WhatsApp users to share data with Facebook or face consequences…
What it means for WhatsApp users
Rewind back to a simpler time: 2016. WhatsApp sent out a notice that users will have the option to opt-out of sharing data with Facebook as a once-off. We like to think it was a time in history when personal autonomy was important — at least you have a choice, right? Not in 2021, no siree.
Come 8 February, WhatsApp will automatically share the following info with its Facebook overlord: user phone numbers, your whole contact list (numbers and names), profile names and pictures, status message including when a user was last online, diagnostic data collected from app logs.
Where to now?
This is an ultimatum in its purest form — users can choose to agree to the new terms, or delete WhatsApp and move to a different, more secure, messaging app. It’s surprisingly hard to get a whole social group and extended family to port to a whole new messaging system, so many people will give in and accept the terms just for convenience’s sake.
If you’re happy sharing data with Facebook (you know, if you’re embedded within Facebook’s ecosystem already), the updated terms may not have a significant effect on your life and the way you share data. In this case, accepting the terms shouldn’t be much of an issue.
But just so you know, there are many WhatsApp alternatives, most with better encryption and security features across the board. Don’t be bullied into using a service that harvests data from you for its own gain if you’re not interested in it.