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Should We Continue Using WhatsApp with the New Privacy Policy?

Should We Continue Using WhatsApp with the New Privacy Policy?

You must have come across the news that WhatsApp has updated its privacy policy and it will come in effect from February 9, 2021. Whether you have accepted the new privacy policy already or you yet to get the intimation, it is very important to know what it is all about.

What is it about?

This new privacy policy will incorporate the products and services offered by Facebook. While policy updates are not new, their mandatory status is what has surprised everyone. The policy pop up clearly states that it is mandatory for the users to accept the policy to continue using WhatsApp.

What is changed?

In the privacy policies earlier, the user had the option to deny sharing of their data with Facebook which is not the case in the latest policy. So, now our personal data can be shared with Facebook. Your registration information, service-related information, transaction data, IP address, and mobile device information are some of the information which will be shared with Facebook. WhatsApp is also changing policies about ‘Transactions and Payment Data’. The policy states that if a user has used the WhatsApp payment services or any kind of financial transaction then the platform can process additional information about the user.

What can one speculate?

All these moves of acquiring personal information are to create a larger Facebook Ecosystem. Speculations are that Facebook is acquiring the user data to access their behavioral pattern and other personal information. The fact that you see advertisements related to your interests on Facebook can be dedicated to this aspect. Facebook has already admitted that it guides advertisers in terms of the target audience. A lot of us have been fine with these advertisements but how safe is it to share the phone number and details like the last login time on WhatsApp. One can be intrigued to think about the kind of business that Facebook might bring in with such personal information. According to WhatsApp, this data can be used to improve the experience over Facebook. For instance, Facebook users can have better friend suggestions and more relevant ads. Also, personal information can be used in putting up a better fight against spam and abuse. While this all sounds interesting and encouraging, it is the lack of an option to opt-out that raises the eyebrows. WhatsApp has made the policy mandatory and the user will have to accept it to use WhatsApp after 8th February. If the intent is to improve the user experience, then maybe the users should have a choice.

What are we stepping into?

There are high chances that Facebook can use this data to monetize through ads. In the coming days, we may witness a surge in the number of advertisements, most of which you might be interested in. You may witness a surge in the number of targeted adverts. You may find advertisements about recruitments and training that you might be interested in. Very clearly, more is the personal information, the better will be the targeted advertisements.

Facebook and WhatsApp will monetize the given information

WhatsApp has emerged as one of the major mediums to market business. Many businesses are using WhatsApp business to reach potential customers. The sharing of next-level personal information will open a window for such businesses to flourish. Integration payment functionality in WhatsApp will escalate the WhatsApp business section. Though WhatsApp pay has not become mainstream yet, personalized information is going to work in its favor.

What can you a user do?

A user can become more alert and aware. WhatsApp is clearly taking advantage of the large customer base which is unaware and not very concerned about the privacy policies. It must have assessed that making such a privacy policy mandatory can cost its users. But our ignorance works in its favor. The reliance of billions of users on WhatsApp for daily communication and lack of any competitor allows business giants like WhatsApp to take such steps.  When it comes to digital privacy, we generally tend to rely on the privacy codes created by the national agencies.

With privacy being compromised to the next extent, the governments need to intervene. But till when? To what extent are the users ready to compromise their privacy for using a free application? It’s high time that the users take matters of privacy into their hands. Many consumers may let go of convenience and switch to other applications such as Telegram and Signal. It is a time we become extremely careful of the data that we are sharing with the world. Consumers today are making conscious efforts of checking out the privacy policies of the competitors and switching to competent platforms. Further usage of WhatsApp will only give way to greater exploitation of our privacy. It will be worth a wait to see what happens next as already many users have started using other messaging options. It seems the population is growing conscious about its personal data and the communication giants may have to pay a price for their decision.

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