WhatsApp updated its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service with additional info on how it handles users’ data, the company is now notifying users through the mobile app that, starting February, they will be required to share their data with Facebook.

“By tapping AGREE, you accept the new terms and privacy policy, which take effect on February 8, 2021,” WhatsApp’s notification says.

“After this date, you’ll need to accept these updates to continue using WhatsApp. You can also visit the Help Center if you would prefer to delete your account and would like more information.”

What Is WhatsApp Sharing With Facebook?

WhatsApp’s updated policy says that whatever information WhatsApp automatically collects from you will be shared with Facebook. This includes your usage and log information, device and connection information, location information and cookies.

It also collects and shares user activity, how often you use WhatsApp, features you use, your profile photo, your status and ‘about’ information.

It also collects device-level information like what device you use, your mobile network, IP address, among others. It also collects and uses precise location information from your device, but with your permission.

We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings, including the Facebook Company Products,” WhatsApp says.

Your information could also be used by Facebook and its other products to make suggestions for you, personalize features and content, help you complete purchases and transactions, and show relevant offers and ads across the Facebook Company Products

The Facebook products include Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Portal-branded devices, Oculus Products, Facebook Shops, Spark AR Studio, Audience Network, NPE Team apps and any other features, apps, technologies, software, products or services offered by Facebook Inc.

What About Your Messages?

WhatsApp has reiterated that all messages are end-to-end encrypted. This means that neither WhatsApp, not third parties will access or read your messages.

“Nothing you share on WhatsApp, including your messages, photos, and account information, will be shared onto Facebook or any of our other family of apps for others to see, and nothing you post on those apps will be shared on WhatsApp for others to see,” WhatsApp says.

WhatsApp doesn’t store your messages once they’ve been delivered. Messages are stored on the user’s device and not on WhatsApp’s servers. Once messages are delivered, they are deleted from its servers.

In the course of delivering a message, WhatsApp’s servers store undelivered messages in encrypted form for up to 30 days and if a message is still undelivered after 30 days, WhatsApp claims to delete it.

“When a user forwards media within a message, we store that media temporarily in encrypted form on our servers to aid in more efficient delivery of additional forwards,” WhatsApp adds.

What Does The Policy Say About Data Shared With Businesses?

The new policy explains how businesses get data when a user interacts with them on the platform: content shared with a business on WhatsApp will be visible to “several people in that business”. This is important because WhatsApp now has over 50 million business accounts. For WhatsApp, this is a potential monetisation model.

The policy says that some “businesses might be working with third-party service providers (which may include Facebook) to help manage their communications with their customers”. To understand how the business is handling the information you share with them, WhatsApp recommends that users read the “business’ privacy policy or contact the business directly”.

With the new changes to the policy, users will now be forced to accept sharing their data with Facebook to continue using their account or, as an alternative, delete their accounts as WhatsApp says.