WhatsApp announces phone number sharing with Facebook and privacy policy update

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WhatsApp has announced an ambitious update of targeted advertising and friends suggestions through phone number sharing with Facebook. To eliminate any privacy concerns, user’s personal information will not be shared, however, WhatsApp says, the phone number will be used to track basic metrics.

WhatsApp announces phone number sharing with Facebook and privacy policy update

The account information sharing feature has been rolled out as a Terms of Services and Privacy Policy update in WhatsApp. Upon opening WhatsApp, users will be greeted with an update message, asking them for approval to share their account information with Facebook. The decision to allow or disallow sharing of information has no impact on the user’s WhatsApp and Facebook experience. Even if users disable information sharing, they will be able to continue using the services as they did before.

Users can easily opt out within 30 days of opting in if they realize that they are uncomfortable with WhatsApp sharing their phone number with Facebook. If you have not opted in already, once you get the approval requesting message, uncheck the box at the bottom of the Terms of Service message and tap Agree to continue.

If you had opted into information sharing but want to opt out now, here is what you should do to disallow Facebook from accessing your WhatsApp registered phone number:

  • Open WhatsApp and go to Settings
  • Select Account
  • Uncheck Share my account info

The update is rolling out slowly so if you have not seen the update message yet, you will not see the share my account info option in Settings > Account either.

WhatsApp, a part of Facebook, has been very transparent about the data sharing and assures its users that privacy will not be affected thanks to end-to-end encryption.

“We will share some of your account information with Facebook and the Facebook family of companies, like the phone number you verified when you registered with WhatsApp, as well as the last time you used our service. Nothing you share on WhatsApp, including your messages, photos, and account information, will be shared onto Facebook or any of the Facebook family of apps for others to see”.

Despite this update, WhatsApp will continue to provide its service without any ads. Targeted ads and friends suggestions will only be inside Facebook’s desktop and mobile experiences.