For those who don’t know, WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, much like many other platforms, and like any other business, Facebook requires a revenue from their investments. So how do they plan to do this through WhatsApp? By increasing data sharing and user content between WhatsApp and Facebook.
The most common misconception that has been created is that WhatsApp has access to our personal messages. WRONG! WhatsApp and Facebook can’t see the chats you’re having with your friends. These messages are still end-to-end encrypted, which means that they can’t see you sharing pictures of your lockdown baking or your conversations with ‘Karen’ about how lazy the hubby is.
The tech giants are not trying to read our messages and invade our privacy; they’re trying to find out more about our habits and interests. The reason for this is twofold; they are trying to create an easier, more seamless user experience for us, where we are shown more content that appeals to us. This means when you go onto Facebook, you might start seeing adverts that are more tailored to you. For example, you will stop seeing adverts for Huawei phones and rather see iPhones, because Facebook now knows you use an iPhone, through WhatsApp.
Simply put, just like you gave your phone number and physical address to Foschini (who will share your information with their Head Office) to receive potential discounts, you are giving permission to WhatsApp to share selected personal data with Facebook, like your name, phone number, how often you use WhatsApp, what features on WhatsApp you use, what phone you use or how you interact with business accounts.
And get this… WhatsApp will NOT have access to your banking details! In some countries, such as India, WhatsApp has a feature called ‘WhatsApp payments’ where you can send money to others, with no surplus fees via WhatsApp. In this case, WhatsApp has access to your transaction history, but for us in South Africa, there’s no need to be concerned.
The second reason these giants are trying to learn our habits and interests specifically relates to how we interact with business chats on WhatsApp. It’s important to note that the WhatsApp policy states that when one messages their private friends, it is not the same as when one messages a business on WhatsApp. When messaging a business chat, we need to be aware that these messages could be visible to more than one person within that business, and these businesses may even rely on a different company to read, store or reply to messages. Some of these businesses may even use Facebook as a platform to manage their WhatsApp messages.
Please also note that businesses may use information gathered from your messages for marketing or advertising purposes. A perfect example of this is if you are to contact an iPhone repair company through a WhatsApp business chat, the next time you log onto Facebook to see what’s the latest you will see adverts for new iPhones being sold by the iPhone repair company you got in touch with through WhatsApp— making sense?
The option to move over to a different messenger app is still there. Still, we’re sure that most will understand that for a tech company to succeed,
they need to continue to innovate, which is exactly what Zuckerberg is doing with the new policy for WhatsApp.
We hope this information clears up some of the confusion and panic and helps you make a more educated decision.
If you still find yourself slightly lost when it comes to how social & digital platforms like WhatsApp work, or how they can be used to benefit you as an individual or a business, iNCO Creative offers online training!
Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org