People are outraged by WhatsApp’s Facebook privacy policies


Indranel Mukherjee / Getty Images

Over the past week, nearly two billion people around the world who use WhatsApp, the instant messaging service owned by Facebook, were greeted with a huge popup when they launched the app.

“WhatsApp is updating its terms and privacy policy,” she said.

Clicking leads to 4,000 words Privacy Policy, Which states that WhatsApp will now reserve the right to share data such as phone numbers, IP addresses, and payments made through the app with Facebook and other Facebook-owned platforms such as Instagram. It also says that if people use WhatsApp to talk to companies that use Facebook’s hosting technology to manage those conversations, those messages can be used by the company to target people with ads on Facebook.

Unless people agree to these new terms, they will be blocked from accessing WhatsApp on February 8th.

Online, the reaction was swift. “Use Signal,” chirp Tesla CEO Elon Musk to 42 million followers, referring to an open-source WhatsApp alternative that is popular with people who deal with sensitive information such as journalists and activists. “I use [Signal] Every day and I am not yet dead, ” chirp American detective Edward Snowden. In Turkey, the media office of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the country’s Ministry of Defense announced that they were Drop WhatsApp After changing the policy, open an investigation into this step.

Signal has become the best free app in both Google and Apple’s app stores in most countries around the world. More than 8,800,000 people downloaded Signal on iPhone and Android phones in the week beginning January 4, compared to just 246,000 people the week before, according to data analytics company Sensor Tower. Telegram, another WhatsApp alternative, She said On Tuesday, more than 25 million people have joined in the past 72 hours.

πŸ“ˆ More than 5 million people downloaded #Signal this weekend, after elonmusk and @ Snowden tweeted about it 😱 πŸ‘β€πŸ—¨ #privacy #whatsapp our report πŸ‘‰


“I was concerned about my privacy,” J. Paul, a marketing specialist from Mumbai who only wanted to be identified by the first name of his first name, told BuzzFeed News. “Facebook invests its products in ways that are invasive to users.”

Besides Facebook itself, WhatsApp is the largest and most popular service on Facebook. In markets like Brazil and India, the app is The default method Communicate to hundreds of millions of people. But so far, Facebook, which paid $ 22 billion for it in 2014, has largely maintained its independence and hasn’t tried to make money from it. Now, that’s changing.

“We remain committed to the privacy and security of private messages for people,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told BuzzFeed News, offering Link To the page the company launched earlier this week to explain the new policy. “The best way to maintain end-to-end encryption in the long term is to have a business model that protects people’s private communications.”

The page says WhatsApp believes messaging with companies is different than messaging with friends and family, and it breaks down data the company might share with Facebook in the future.

Facebook’s new privacy policy, which generated more than $ 21 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2020 from targeting ads, will allow people to use WhatsApp to make more money. But doing so means trying to get the app’s large user base to outgrow more data – and you could risk sending many of them to competitors instead.

“If you spend $ 22 billion on something, sooner or later, shareholders want you to monetize that asset,” Michie Choudhury, a New York-based Internet technology attorney and civil liberties activist, told BuzzFeed News.

WhatsApp, started by two former Yahoo employees, Jan Kum and Brian Acton, originally people are charging $ 1 a year. After Facebook made the app free to use, the growth exploded. In the first few years after purchasing the app in 2014, Facebook largely left WhatsApp alone. But in 2018, it launched the WhatsApp Business app, which allowed companies to use WhatsApp to communicate with customers. For the first time, Facebook wanted WhatsApp to start taking profits.

Over the past year, WhatsApp has added more business-facing features, such as airline tickets, shopping receipts, Catalogs, And the Payments. WhatsApp said that there are more than 50 million companies on the platform, and more than 175 million people send messages to a company on the app every day.

β€œThey want WhatsApp to become a payment service and shopping portal, another aspect of your life that will be covered by Facebook’s data collection efforts,” Devdutta Mukhopadhyay, an attorney at the Internet Freedom Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to protect digital data freedoms, told BuzzFeed News. “This is what their latest privacy policy changes are about.”

Paul said, “I don’t trust Facebook.” He recently deactivated his Facebook account, even though he still uses Instagram and WhatsApp. “I am required to be on him, but I do not trust him,” he said.

Trust in WhatsApp has eroded since Facebook bought it. Kum advocated selling the app to Facebook in 2014 Blog post, Explaining that the company was not interested in people’s personal data. β€œIf the partnership with Facebook meant we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it,” he wrote. Two years later, WhatsApp Advertise That it will start sharing some data, including phone numbers and the last time people used the service with Facebook – a move for the European Union. Fined 110 million euros.

The current response has been engulfed in misinformation. A large number of people did not realize that the new privacy policy for WhatsApp only applied to conversations with companies and not to private conversations with friends and family, and they urged others to boycott the application.

β€œFrankly, I don’t think most of the people who are currently switching to Signal or Telegram have actually read the new privacy policy,” Mukhopadhyay said. “Regardless of what complex legal documents say, people’s experiences tell them that they cannot trust companies like Facebook with their data.”

In response, Facebook launches a wizard attack. In India, the company’s largest market with more than 400 million users, the company rolled out the front pages of major national newspapers with full-page advertisements stating that it could not see people’s private messages or hear their calls. β€œRespect for your privacy is encoded in our DNA,” the WhatsApp ad said, echoing a line from the 2014 com blog.

Facebook senior executives, like Instagram head And Facebook Head of the Virtual Reality DepartmentThey tweeted to support the app.

On Friday, Will Cathcart, president of WhatsApp, wrote a series of tweets, confirming how the company cannot see people’s personal chats and that the new privacy policy applies only to messages with companies.

He wrote: “It is important for us to be clear that this update describes business communication and does not alter WhatsApp data sharing practices with Facebook.” “It doesn’t affect how people communicate privately with friends or family, wherever they are in the world.”

Cathcart did not respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.

Despite the protest, getting rid of WhatsApp in countries like India can be difficult. Paul, a marketing expert from Mumbai, said he will continue to use the app until it prompts everyone who knows him to turn to Signal.

He said, “It’s not an easy sale, given the appropriateness of WhatsApp.”

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