WhatsApp has announced that it will now start sharing its users phone numbers with its parent company, Facebook. This will allow Facebook to use the information from WhatsApp in order to better target its users with ads and more friend suggestions. However these won’t be present on the messaging service.
Whatsapp billion users:
Whatsapp has more than a billion users and was acquired by Facebook for $21.8 billion in 2014. The executives of the messaging service guaranteed that its users privacy would be protected making this change, a significant shift for WhatsApp.
Facebook has been looking for many way of how it can make money since it bought WhatsApp and has promised the co-founders of the messaging service that is will ensure the privacy of its users and have no ads on the platform. Facebook has also said that it will not post anyone phone numbers online or give them out.
Users have a limited time to decide whether or not they are ok with sharing information with Facebook. If they wish to opt out of this, WhatsApp has added one more step where users have to go to the Account settings and uncheck a box.
Excutives of WhatsApp:
Excutives of WhatsApp have said that they are looking for new ways to help businesses communicate with its customers on the platform, such as providing receipts, confirming reservations or updating the customer on the status of their delivery. Companies also have the ability to send messages about sales to its customer as a form of marketing for the company. The revised policy does reveal that this feature can be blocked or controlled by the user.
WhatsApp does plan on allowing traditional display ads on its platform anytime soon as it does not want to spam its users.
WhatsApp will be coordinating accounts with Facebook from now on by providing it with not only the users phone number, but also other relevant information such as the type of operating system they user and any other smartphone characteristics. Facebook wants this information in order to have a better understanding of the messaging service’s users in order to make more accurate friend suggestions and show more targeted advertising.
Custom Audiences Program:
A Facebook program called Custom Audiences is how the ads will come through that will let businesses upload lists of customers and their phone numbers or any other form of information that they have been able to gather from warranty cards or other sources. Facebook will then use the list to help match it to users that have the same information in order to show them the targeted advertisement. Facebook claims that it will not be giving out any information about the users to the advertisers.
To Facebook, the phone numbers that WhatsApp is able to offer, is very valuable as Facebook may not have the most current number that its users have provided them, nor is it a requirement to provide. As for WhatsApp, users need to provide a current number so that the platform knows where the messages should be delivered.
Warned the New owners:
The move may pick up some heat from privacy advocates. When WhatsApp was first acquired by Facebook, many complaints were made by activists as they were worried about information being taken from the accounts of the messaging service. The Federal Trade Commission even warned the new owners that they should not change how they employ WhatsApp user data without users’ consent.
Users of WhatsApp have approximately 30 days to either accept the new policy or stop using the service. If they accept then they have more than 30 days to decide whether or not they want to share their information with Facebook. The 30 day window has been criticized by many privacy activists as all the users are already opted and must go to their account to opt out, when it should be the other way around. If the users aren’t informed about what is going on with their information, then it should not be used for any purpsose.
There have been many privacy groups that admire WhatsApp for the powerful encryption they built into their services that makes it impossible for Facebook or anyone else to read any message sent by a user. The encryption is said to still be about of the platform which means that WhatsApp and Facebook will still not be able to user any content from messages sent by users in order to target adverting.