TBC Explainer: What you should know about WhatsApp's new privacy policy
WhatsApp's new privacy policy has users raise many questions. People have now begun shifting to alternate messaging platformsImage source: The Bridge Chronicle

TBC Explainer: What you should know about WhatsApp's new privacy policy

In order to avoid confusion, The Bridge Chronicle has answered some of your questions about WhatsApp's privacy policy update.

WhatsApp got stuck in a quagmire after rolling out its updated privacy policy last week. The new policy talks about sharing data with Facebook, and users around the globe have raised concerns. The concerns date back to the platform's history of lawsuits related to the data breach.

Due to the change in the privacy policy, users have even started migrating to other messaging apps. Consecutively, Signal and Telegram racked up close to 4 million new downloads between January 6 and 10.

The hype around this issue also led to a lot of misinformation on social media. To avoid confusion, The Bridge Chronicle answers some questions about WhatsApp's privacy policy update.

Can WhatsApp or Facebook see my messages or hear my calls?

No. The policy update does not have a deal with personal chats which will continue to be end-to-end encrypted. Encryption ensures only you and the person you're sending the message to can read it. Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook will be able to read messages or hear the calls between you and your friends/family.

Will WhatsApp keep records of those who message or calls me?

No. The platform doesn't keep logs of who is messaging or calling whom via WhatsApp. The log of audio calls/ video calls/ messages sent will only be visible to you.

Is WhatsApp storing my messages?

No. WhatsApp does not store text messages, photos, or videos shared between you and the receiver. According to the privacy policy, the platform stores a message only when it "cannot be delivered immediately".

In this case, the message stays on the server for upto 30 days in an encrypted form until delivered. If the message fails to be delivered, after 30 days, then it is deleted from the servers too.

Will WhatsApp be able to share my location with Facebook?

When you share your location with someone on WhatsApp, it is protected by end-to-end encryption. Meaning, no third party can see your location. However, the platform has access to your phone number, profile info and IP address through which the platform can gather approximate location data. This data is used for diagnostic purposes and troubleshooting, in case you're having issues with location-based services.

What data will WhatsApp share with Facebook?

WhatsApp stores and can share the following information with its parent company Facebook: Account Information (profile and phone number), IP address, transaction data (through WhatsApp Pay), service-related information, mobile device information, and usage data.

What does the new policy say about business messaging?

The new policy explains how messaging with businesses is different from messaging your family or friends. When you message a business account on WhatsApp, anyone in that business can see what you have shared, which is the case even if you email or SMS them.

According to WhatsApp, "Some large businesses need to use hosting services to manage their communication. Which is why we're giving businesses the option to use secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions, and send helpful information like purchase receipts."

To make sure a user is informed, the platform will label the conversations with businesses that are using hosting services from Facebook.

What are the new features that come with the update?

Due to the increasing popularity of online purchasing, WhatsApp will allow businesses that use Facebook Shops to display their goods right within WhatsApp so people can see what's available to buy. A user has the option to interact with Shops and if allowed, your shopping activity can be used for personalised advertising and improving your shopping experience.

After receiving a lot of backlash over its new privacy policy, WhatsApp came forward to clarify that the new policies affect only business messaging and not personal messages. "We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data," WhatsApp said.

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