Facebook’s $16 billion investment in WhatsApp finally comes to its monetization strategy. After the release of the updated WhatsApp privacy policy controversy, it seems like we’re finally headed in that direction of sharing our data with Facebook inc. 

WhatsApp recently announced the changes to the privacy policy in January 2021 which created controversy among netizens and its users about data security and private conversation. As a result, many users of WhatsApp are now switching to something more private messaging apps like Signal and Telegram. After the updated privacy policy the downloads of the Signal app significantly increased and jumped 4,200% week-on-week, now the app has approx 7.5 million installs globally in the first week of January.

WhatsApp is now in a defensive strategy and started to take steps for its damage control mode to stem the tide of users jumping ship. WhatsApp also took to Twitter to clarify exactly what was being shared after the privacy changes with Facebook. In India, the app took to front-page newspaper advertisements to explain exactly what data is being shared.


The question still remains the same, what exact data is being shared between Facebook and WhatsApp under the old privacy policy? Moreover, is there anything to be concerned about for the average user? Below we have collected an overview of the state of WhatsApp privacy and what data is collected from users. 

The policy, which was to come into effect in February starting 8, 2021, before a three-month delay was announced, was applied only for business communication.

What data will WhatsApp collect on you and share with Facebook?

WhatsApp has come out from different media channels to clarify the air about its updated privacy policy. The policy, which was to come into effect in February starting 8, 2021, before a three-month delay was announced, was applied only for business communication. The policy changes apply only if you opt to communicate with a business that integrates with WhatsApp.

Here is the list of data that will be shared with Facebook when users are communicating with any of the 50 million business accounts on the platform:

  • Phone number
  • Device ID
  • Location
  • Transaction data
  • Product interaction
  • User identifiers

Although, most of the data shared with Facebook will be used for better ad targeting and will benefit advertisers on different platforms of Facebook.  By using your transaction, location, and other data, Facebook can optimize your advertisements for your interests. We’ve already seen this happen between Facebook and Instagram after Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012.

Now, Facebook is trying to achieve the same with WhatsApp, the company should have even more granular data on communication between users and business. As an end-user, we will see better ads across Facebook’s social platforms. The data shared will also allow businesses to send you payment confirmations and transaction data over Whatsapp directly.

updated WhatsApp privacy policy

These privacy policies only apply to businesses who opt to use Facebook’s business hosting solutions. The company claims that conversations with such businesses will be clearly marked out with a label.

What data won’t be collected by WhatsApp?

To be honest, WhatsApp is not snooping on your private one to one communication. Your private one-to-one chats personal data or even group chats are all completely end-to-end encrypted. 

Your private one-to-one chats personal data or even group chats are all completely end-to-end encrypted. 

None of this data can be looked into by WhatsApp nor is it shared with Facebook ad platforms. This won’t change when the updated privacy policy comes into effect. WhatsApp does not have access to any of the following data identifiers:

  • Private chats 
  • Private phone calls 
  • Message or call logs 
  • Contact information 
  • Shared location 
  • WhatsApp group information

The updated WhatsApp privacy policy makes it clear that the changes in its data sharing with Facebook only apply to WhatsApp business communications. WhatsApp also addressed its updated privacy policy and its controversies, what is and isn’t shared in a blog post which you can read here.

Can I opt-out of the WhatsApp privacy policy?

While you can say no to the pop-up notification for the updated privacy policy, until and unless you live in the European Union (EU) or the UK, the updated policy goes into effect starting from February 8. As of now, it isn’t clear if the app will stop functioning if you do not accept the policies.

That said, there is no policy change around private One-to-One communication. These changes might apply to users unless they use WhatsApp for chatting with any business entity with WhatsApp business.

What do you think about the updated WhatsApp privacy policy?

There’s no denying the fact that WhatsApp is now part of everyone’s life with 1 billion installs and users it is now everyday conversations in major markets like Europe and India. In fact, India alone has almost 340 million users to WhatsApp’s two billion user base globally. The future will say whether people opt for it or use some other app for chatting.