New WhatsApp policy to share user data with Facebook draws backlash

Messaging service provider WhatsApp is facing backlash from users after giving them an ultimatum: share personal data with Facebook, its parent company, or stop using the app.

WhatsApp alerted users to the controversial change to its privacy policy via an in-app notification which asks them to agree to share personal data, including their phone number and IP address, with Facebook.

“By tapping Agree, you accept the new terms, which take effect on February 8, 2021,” the notification states, adding “After this date, you’ll need to accept the new terms to continue using WhatsApp. You can also visit the Help Center if you would prefer to delete your account."

Users who do not accept the new policy by February 8 will lose access to their accounts.

The move has prompted widespread calls for users to delete their WhatsApp accounts and switch to an alternative messaging app.

"Is WhatsApp really worth it after its intrusion on privacy," one person tweeted Friday along with the hashtag #DeleteWhatsApp which has been trending on Twitter.

Other personal data set to be shared with Facebook includes contacts' phone numbers, locations, mobile network, and time zone.

According to WhatsApp, the revamped policy is designed to “offer integrations across the Facebook Company Products”, which also includes Instagram and Messenger.

Under the new terms, Facebook reserves the right to share collected data with its family of companies.

Facebook acquired WhatsApp for US$19 billion in 2014.


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