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Stop this app from sharing your data with Facebook before it's too late

Stop this app from sharing your data with Facebook before it's too late

User privacy protection is always a compelling point of debate for social media and messaging sites. On one hand, users welcome the free communication tools these services provide. Conversely, privacy advocates say that our privacy is at risk whenever we use these sites.

It appears that to enjoy the conveniences these websites offer, the current norm is to always have a few compromises with our privacy and the way our user data is shared.

But with that said, how much information are you willing to share?

WhatsApp, the popular mobile messaging service, updated its Terms of Service and Privacy Policy last week stating that it will start sharing certain user data with its mother company, Facebook.

The company stated in the agreement that user information (such as phone numbers, profile names/photos, and online status/status message) may be shared with the "Facebook family of companies" to help it improve "experiences within their services" such as "showing relevant offers and ads."

Even with this change in how WhatsApp shares user data with its Facebook family of companies, the messaging company says it will continue providing end-to-end encryption for its services and it still won't store messages on their servers.

Our readers may recall that Facebook acquired the WhatsApp service way back in 2014 for a hefty deal amounting to $16 billion worth of stocks and cash. Despite the acquisition, the company said back then that it will retain their user privacy policy of not sharing "personally identifiable information" to third parties.

But with this change in their Privacy Policy, privacy advocates, like the Electronic Privacy Information Center, are saying that WhatsApp is backtracking on that promise by sharing said data with Facebook. They are saying that this might constitute a violation of this Federal Trade Commission consent order.

Whatsapp is making it clear that they are at least giving their current users a choice to opt-out of this change.

If you are a WhatsApp user and you do not like this new privacy policy, you could opt out of Facebook data sharing by unchecking the option upon agreeing to the new Terms of Service.

Additionally, after agreeing to the new terms, you will have an extra 30 days to change the choice by going to Settings >> Account >> Share my account info on your WhatsApp app.

Whatsapp alternatives

If you are really concerned about the privacy implications of the new WhatsApp Terms of Service and would rather not have your info shared with Facebook, you could try other secure messaging platforms out there like Signal Private Messenger for iOS and Android.

Signal Private Messenger is an end-to-end encrypted messaging app created by Open Whisper Systems, the same company that provided WhatsApp's own encryption protocol. If you are really serious about your messaging privacy, this service may be worth a try.

To read more about WhatsApp's revamped Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, check out their legal information posted here.

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Source: Forbes.com
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