- WhatsApp is amending its terms of service to require users to share personal data, including phone numbers and locations with its parent company, Facebook.
- Some critics, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, have suggested users switch to Signal and Telegram encrypted messaging apps.
- A representative from WhatsApp told Ars Technica that the change was to allow businesses to store WhatsApp chats using the Facebook infrastructure.
- The messaging app sells itself as a privacy driven service.
- Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.
WhatsApp, the encrypted messaging app that sells itself as a privacy-focused service, will start forcing users to share personal data with Facebook, its parent company.
In an announcement sent to users on Wednesday, WhatsApp said that users should agree to let Facebook and its affiliates collect WhatsApp data, including users’ phone numbers, contact phone numbers, locations, and more.
If users don’t agree by February 8, they will lose access.
The move prompted users to delete their WhatsApp accounts and switch to smaller, encrypted messaging apps like Signal and Telegram.
“Signal and Telegram are now better alternatives if you’re concerned about your privacy,” tweeted Mike Butcher, editor-in-chief of TechCrunch. He shared comparisons of the data collected by WhatsApp versus that collected by Signal and Telegram.
—Mike Butcher (@mikebutcher) January 7, 2021
Tesla CEO Elon Musk was among those who recommended users switch departments, Tweeter, “Use the signal.”
Nine hours earlier, Musk had appeared to criticize Facebook, via a sardonic meme, as being responsible for the rioters that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014, and in 2016 it gave users a unique chance not to share app data with Facebook.
A WhatsApp spokesperson told Ars Technica that the change was to allow businesses to store WhatsApp chats using Facebook’s larger infrastructure.
A spokesperson for WhatsApp didn’t say why the platform decided to make the change, but added that it would not affect users based in the EU and UK.
WhatsApp founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum left the company in 2017 and 2018. Acton opened up about his departure, which followed the decision to introduce ads on WhatsApp, and called on people to ‘remove Facebook’ .
Koum’s departure was also surrounded by reports that he had clashed with management over the company’s approach to user privacy on WhatsApp.