Facebook and Whatsapp: a marketing masterstroke, or an invasion of privacy?

Facebook and Whatsapp: a marketing masterstroke, or an invasion of privacy?
Group of Diverse People Discussing About Social Media

The news that Whatsapp users will have their phone numbers automatically shared with the social networking giant Facebook has split opinion.

Some are indifferent about Facebook using the content of your Whatsapp messages to send you targeted adverts on the social networking site, but privacy campaigners say it is a step too far.

When Whatsapp joined Facebook in 2014, it promised its one billion users nothing would change. But these new terms and conditions is definitely a move in a different direction and some would say it is a change for the worse.

What is going to happen?

Whatsapp is sharing your phone number, profile data, status message and online status with its parent company Facebook. This information will be used by Facebook to show targeted ads based on the content of your messages. So if you’re talking with your friend about booking a holiday to Ibiza, you might start to see some hotel deals for resorts popping up on your timeline.

You won’t see ads in Whatsapp – only Facebook.

Why are they doing it?

Whatsapp says sharing this data with Facebook will help test new features and claims all messages will still be encrypted. The company also says by sharing this information it will crack down on fraud and abuse on the social networking sites.

Can I opt out?

Whatsapp users will see a message stating the terms and conditions of the app have changed. Once a user clicks “read” there will be the option to switch off the sharing with Facebook by clicking a box in the “settings” area of Whatsapp. There are 30 days to opt out.

The privacy argument

Whatsapp previously promised it would never share private information, including users phone numbers, with Facebook. This U-turn by Whatsapp has upset privacy groups who have spoken against the new terms and conditions.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) say this change in the terms of conditions goes against a Federal Trade Commission order.

Whatsapp says it will fight against spam and says this change will allow users to see adverts from companies you already “work with”, rather than new businesses.