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Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

7 things you need to know about WhatsApp & Facebook data sharing policy

You’ve probably read about a ‘new policy update‘ that WhatsApp will be rolling out on February 8th, 2021 that involves the mandatory sharing of your data with parent company Facebook. Here are 7 key points regarding this update that you should know:

1. WhatsApp & Facebook was already sharing your data since 2016

When acquired in 2014, a new user agreement at that time indicated that WhatsApp will share your phone number associated with your WhatsApp account with Facebook. It would also share analytics such as what devices and operating systems are being used.

In August 2016, a major update to WhatsApp privacy policy stated that it started sharing user information and metadata with Facebook. At that time, the messaging service offered its existing users 30 days to opt out of at least some of the sharing. If you chose to opt out at the time, WhatsApp will continue to honor that choice.

Facebook has confirmed that the February 2021 privacy policy update would not affect WhatsApp users who decided to stop sharing data with Facebook back when the option was available in 2016.

You can check whether you had opted out back in 2016 through the “Request account info” function in Settings.

2. Your messages would not be shared*

End-to-End encryption is still a strong selling point for WhatsApp and continues to be the case even after the February update. This means that Messages, photos, and other content you send and receive on WhatsApp can only be viewed on your smartphone and the devices of the people you choose to message with. WhatsApp and Facebook itself can’t access your communications. In fact, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly affirmed his commitment to expanding end-to-end encryption offerings as part of tying the company’s different communication platforms together.

* CyberSafeTT would like to comment on this by saying that we have personally experienced ads being displayed on Facebook related to content that was shared via WhatsApp messages. While we have no further proof of validation of why this happens, it does make you question data privacy.

3. What data will be shared between the platforms?

As seen on a FAQ from WhatsApp the information shared with Facebook,  includes your account registration information (such as your phone number), transaction data, service-related information, information on how you interact with others (including businesses) when using their Services, mobile device information, your IP address, and may include other information identified in the Privacy Policy section entitled ‘Information We Collect’ or obtained upon notice to you or based on your consent. It also collects and shares user activity, how often you use WhatsApp, features you use, your profile photo, your status and ‘about’ information.

4. Why is Facebook / WhatsApp doing this?

The information shared would be used by Facebook and its other products to make suggestions for you, personalize features and content, help you complete purchases and transactions, and show relevant offers and ads across the Facebook Company Products

The Facebook products include Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Portal-branded devices, Oculus Products, Facebook Shops, Spark AR Studio, Audience Network, NPE Team apps and any other features, apps, technologies, software, products or services offered by Facebook Inc.

In short, Facebook intends to use the information to curate a better user experience for you and by extension, make it more likely for you to engage and or purchase products and services (offered by third-party-vendors) on it’s platforms.

5. Can I opt-out of this new update and not share my data?

Unfortunately, this is a share it or leave it scenario, and there is no opt-out option.

WhatsApp is indicating to users via an in-app pop-up that you’ll soon have to agree to share your data with company parent Facebook if you’d like to keep using the app. In this pop-up, you will notice a link to a new privacy policy, which takes effect on Feb. 8.  it clearly states “After this date, you’ll need to accept these updates to continue using WhatsApp,” .

Therefore, if you don’t agree, the same alert suggests you delete your account.

6. Uninstalling the app from your phone does not stop the sharing!

WhatsApp says that when you delete your WhatsApp account, your undelivered messages are deleted from its servers along with any of your other information it no longer needs to operate and provide its services.

However, users must ensure they not only uninstall WhatsApp, but must delete their account from WhatsApp. This can be done by going to settings > Account and selecting ‘Delete my account’.

“Please remember that when you delete your account, it does not affect the information other users have relating to you, such as their copy of the messages you sent them,” WhatsApp’s privacy policy adds.

7. What can I use instead of WhatsApp?

Users have already started to test out other messaging platforms that offer more secure messaging facilities and also those which do not capture your data.

At the time of writing this article, Signal has risen to #1 on the iOS Top Charts. Signal has been endorsed by Edward Snowden, as well as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk also tweeted, ‘Use Signal’ shortly after the information about WhatsApp privacy policy started to spread.

Telegram is also another app that has seen an upsurge in downloads and increase in user accounts. Telegram however, still stores your Contact Info, Contacts and User ID whereas, Signal does not keep any personal data.

See a comparison of the data captured by WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram and Facebook Messenger apps.


  • Group video calls for 8 participants
  • Group Chat up to 256 participants
  • Can broadcast messages to multiple contacts
  • Disappearing Messages feature will remove message for individual contact of groups after 7 days.
  • WhatsApp Status and WhatsApp Stories similar to Instagram and Twitter
  • Can share files e.g. MS Word, PDF, TXT, PPT etc., up to 100MB.
  • Photos, videos and audio files can be shared up to 16 MB
  • Can share your live / current location
  • Messages and data are backed up via cloud services like Google Drive and iCloud. These backups are not encrypted.
  • End-to-End Encryption (E2E) is available for messages, video calls, voice calls, photos etc. between you and the recipient


  • Instant messaging
  • Photo / video sharing
  • Extensive in-chat features
  • 2 Factor Authentication available
  • Group chats – users can chat with their Facebook friends and phone book contacts
  • Ability to record voice messages
  • Live video chat / video calling
  • Can share current location
  • Secret Messaging feature allows users to talk to one another in a completely private, encrypted and closed-off chat


  • Supports groups with up to 200,000 members.
  • Features include  messaging bots, polls, quizzes and hashtags
  • Two-Factor Verification
  • Secret-Chat Feature.
  • Self-destructing messages for photos or videos and in secret chats
  • The size limit for sharing files is 1.5 GB
  • End-2-End encryption is available only with secret chats


  • Can allow for Groups BUT, no message broadcasting
  • Support for Group Calls
  • Disappearing messages feature
  • Allows relay voice calls to its servers, identity is not shared, equivalent to using a VPN
  • Signal also encrypts your metadata offering multiple levels of security
  • Allows unique chat safety number that allows you to verify the security of your messages and calls with specific contacts

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