App update: What's up with Whatsapp?

  • Yes, WhatsApp wants to exploit your phone number—but you can opt out

The web is abuzz with news of changes in the way the popular instant messaging app Whatspp will work in future. WhatsApp said in its announcement last week that it will begin sharing more data with Facebook, the company that bought it in 2014.

If WhatsApp gives Facebook your mobile number, the social media giant will in turn use that to point you at more 'friend' suggestions and will also drive 'relevant' advertisements to your site.

The changes came in an updated terms and privacy policy statement.( Read it here:

Their reasoning? "We want to explore ways for you to communicate with businesses that matter to you too, while still giving you an experience without third-party banner ads and spam. Whether it's hearing from your bank about a potentially fraudulent transaction, or getting notified by an airline about a delayed flight, many of us get this information elsewhere, including in text messages and phone calls. We want to test these features in the next several months, but need to update our terms and privacy policy to do so... And by connecting your phone number with Facebook's systems, Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them.."

It is possible to opt out of sharing such information—but the option is somewhat sneakily tucked into the terms and conditions where the only button is "Agree". To disagree, you have to tap "Read" to access the full text of conditions. Scroll to the bottom of the new privacy policy and you will find a box that will let you opt out of the data sharing.

What WhatsApp may plan to do is to push business messages to you on WhatsApp, like you now get in SMS. They could be useful—like airline flight updates or weather info—or they could be unwanted ads.

Industry watchers say, it was only matter before WhatsApp's new owner, Facebook decided to monetize the popular messaging app. But many WhatsApp users feel betrayed Does this mean they will face a barrage of marketing messages on WhatsApp? What happens if, reassurances notwithstanding, personal details fall into the wrong hands?

We bring you some reactions which only go to show that while lay users might be unhappy, industry has reason to smile:

There are many other chat apps.

Ajit Patel, CEO & Founder of , a competing lifestyle messenger app recently launched in India: "When WhatsApp announced its end to end encryption, it was natural to assume that they were now focusing on their users’ privacy. However, this recent announcement has certainly overthrown what should have been the application’s natural move to introduce privacy features for its users. But technology is fast evolving and there are many chat apps today, which are more competitive and feature rich than WhatsApp and will remain ad free for many years."

Good news for service providers: 'More cake to the party!'

Steven Sammut, Chief Operations Officer at Malta-based mobile operators security service provider, HAUD, sees this as good news for mobile service providers:

"The announcement that WhatsApp will begin to share more data with Facebook to allow companies to send messages to users is something that mobile operators should keep tabs on, as most have successfully carved out considerable revenue streams from allowing organisations to quickly and reliably reach key consumer audiences. This new WhatsApp functionality could however increase the volumes by bringing in traffic that would otherwise use other routes like email. WhatsApp will probably take a slice of the cake, but it may also bring more cake to the party."

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Topics : #WhatsApp

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