WhatsApp clarifies on prevailing privacy controversy



WhatsApp, on Tuesday, issued a clarification on the company’s new privacy policy update by stating that none of the changes would affect the privacy of the messages sent to family and friends.

The messaging platform said that it wanted to “address rumours,” and emphasised that it would continue to protect a user’s private messages with end-to-end encryption.

“Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can read your messages or hear your calls with your friends, family, and co-workers on WhatsApp. Whatever you share, it stays between you,” the company said.

“While traditionally mobile carriers and operators store this information, we believe that keeping these records for two billion users would be both a privacy and security risk, and we don’t do it,” it noted.

Concerning location sharing, WhatsApp highlighted in its newly created FAQ page that neither the app itself nor Facebook will see the shared location between users.

The platform also mentioned that when someone shares location on its app, it remains end-to-end encrypted.

However, it is important to note that WhatsApp collects and uses precise location information of user devices.

“Even if you do not use our location-related features, we use IP addresses and other information like phone number area codes to estimate your general location (e.g., city and country).

We also use your location information for diagnostics and troubleshooting purposes,” the updated privacy policy mentions.

“When you give us permission, we access only the phone numbers from your address book to make messaging fast and reliable, and we don’t share your contacts lists with the other apps Facebook offers,” it said.

The group chats on the platform also remain private and end-to-end encrypted.

“We use group membership to deliver messages and to protect our service from spam and abuse. We don’t share this data with Facebook for ads,” the FAQ page noted.

Following terms of data sharing that have caused the privacy controversy, the company said the update included changes related to messaging businesses on 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,” it said.

Some new commercial features have also arrived to enable businesses to sell their goods and services from WhatsApp, that might require personalisation.

For that, users’ shopping activities could be used to personalise the experience. However, WhatsApp stated that features are optional.

The new updates in the privacy policy have unwittingly helped competitive platforms such as Telegram and Signal attain some success.

However, WhatsApp emphasises that the changes were mainly to address business accounts.

The instant messaging app continues to develop its privacy policy update despite public criticism. The latest update will be made mandatory from February 8.

(Edited by Marbamonlang Rani)


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