Skip to main content

WhatsApp will share your data with Facebook whether you like it or not

WhatsApp will shortly start to share your data with Facebook as a condition of use of the app. This completes a U-turn which began when Facebook first acquired the app back in 2014.

At the time, WhatsApp assured users that their data would remain private, and not be shared with Facebook …


Shortly after WhatsApp was sold to Facebook for $19B, the messaging app gave the reassurance in a blog post.

There has also been a lot of inaccurate and careless information circulating about what our future partnership would mean for WhatsApp users’ data and privacy. I’d like to set the record straight […]

Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible […] If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it. Instead, we are forming a partnership that would allow us to continue operating independently and autonomously. Our fundamental values and beliefs will not change. Our principles will not change.

The first part of the U-turn came in 2016, when WhatsApp began sharing data with Facebook by default.

By coordinating more with Facebook, we’ll be able to do things like track basic metrics about how often people use our services and better fight spam on WhatsApp. And by connecting your phone number with Facebook’s systems, Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them.

At the time, however, existing users could opt out of the data sharing.

If you are an existing user, you can choose not to have your WhatsApp account information shared with Facebook to improve your Facebook ads and products experiences. Existing users who accept our updated Terms and Privacy Policy will have an additional 30 days to make this choice by going to Settings > Account.

WhatsApp to share your data with Facebook as condition of use

Upcoming changes to the messaging app’s privacy policy remove the opt-out option, as spotted by XDA-Developers.

WhatsApp users are receiving an in-app notice today regarding the service’s new terms and privacy policy. The notice, as you can see in the attached screenshot, talks about three key updates that affect how WhatsApp processes your data, how businesses can use Facebook hosted services to store and manage their WhatsApp chats, and how WhatsApp will soon partner with Facebook to offer deeper integrations across all of the latter’s products. It further reveals that these changes will go into effect on February 8th, and users will have no choice but to accept these changes if they wish to continue using WhatsApp.

Among other things, your data will now be used to show personalized ads.

Improving their services and your experiences using them, such as making suggestions for you (for example, of friends or group connections, or of interesting content), personalizing features and content, helping you complete purchases and transactions, and showing relevant offers and ads across the Facebook Company Products.

You can read the full details here.

WhatsApp does, however, use end-to-end encryption for all messaging – text, voice, and video – so cannot see or use the content of your messages or calls. Update: The new privacy policy also doesn’t apply in Europe due to stronger privacy legislation there.

The news follows a piece highlighting the vastly different amounts of information linked to user identities by four messaging apps: Signal, iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. This was revealed by Apple requiring apps to disclose the personal data they collect, and specify the ways in which it is used.

Photo: Rachit Tank on Unsplash

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel



Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

Ben Lovejoy's favorite gear