The IM app is ready to share user’s contact number with its parent company

The popular instant messenger app, WhatsApp updated its privacy policy and the terms of service which has raised some serious questions about user data and privacy among the others. The messenger app promised its users that the app will not display any kind of ads within the user interface; instead the company will share the user data with its parent company- Facebook. In 2014, Facebook acquired the instant messenger app for nineteen billion dollars.

Since 2012, this is the first time the messenger app has re-written their policy terms, apparently with the goal of making it understandable with few modifications. This new modification puts forth two main aspects. The first one is that, the messenger platform can now on be used for commercial messaging and the other thing is that, the app proves to be part of the social media site- Facebook.

The user’s phone number is shared in social media

The over the top (OTT) messaging app, WhatsApp announced that they will share the phone number of the users those who are accessing the app with its parent company, Facebook. The messenger app gives the users a minimal time to opt out the sharing of user data with the social media site and the users must uncheck an extra box. It also assured that the social media site will not share the phone number of the user with any other party or post the number online. The main aim of the social media network to acquire the instant messenger app was to make money with the fastest growing messaging app. They also agreed to the conditions enforced by the co-founders of the app, like keeping the ads away from the messaging platform and respecting user’s privacy.

The new re-written legal policy document

In the first few pages of the document, the points specified are the relationship between the messenger app and the social media network. The company specifies that it will not share the information of the users with any other platform or media, but announces that they will share the contact number of the users accessing the messenger app. While it gives the phone number to the parent company, it reassures that the social media will not post the information shared in the messenger platform with Facebook.

The presence of the social media network in the picture makes people think whether messages that the users send to the other will reflect the advertisements that are targeted at the user itself, but since the introduction of the new feature, the encrypted end to end option, the information sent by the user cannot be read by the third party. There are around one billion active users accessing the messenger app each month, but does not acquire any monetary funds from them. While the Chinese messenger app, the WeChat acts as an economic powerhouse that supports the public accounts that displays the ads and is used as an eCommerce platform and even used for money transfer and car sharing company. But these aspects were not present in WhatsApp because it did not have an official application program interface for the use of business purpose.

The main fact of the messenger app to update its legal policy is to look out for new possibilities of the brands to make use of the messenger app. With the enormous reach of the messenger app among the global audience, the company is planning to venture into the commercial market and also offer bulk messaging service. The instant messenger app has never been a monetary driven messaging service that practised the no ads policy. Initially, the app was a paid service for the iOs users which later became the non paid app and after a particular time period the user has to pay for the service. But the app later became free completely and they tried to figure out new options to commercialise the messaging service.

Messaging service utilized in the eCommerce industry

With the new update in the legal privacy policy document, the messaging platform can be used in the eCommerce industry, where the brands can make use of the platform for marketing the product, airport authorities will make use the this service to inform about the flight details like delay or cancellation of a particular flight and even receive notifications from the financial institutions and banks. With the features like formatting, images, rich links and other features, the messenger service is more applicable for the brands to communicate with their dealers and customers rather than the use of the SMS service.

Earlier, at the time of launch, the only perspective of the company’s privacy policy is that they will not sell user personal information to anyone, which has been modified as the ways and means by which the company is trying to connect the customers and the brands for commercial purpose. Thus, the app has moved one step forward by shifting its policy. The modified document also specifies that the data shared by the app with the social media network will be used to customize and improve the other offerings provided by the Facebook, which includes the ads and offers.

You can opt out the feature within a particular time period

WhatsApp’s new update will allows the platform to share the user information with the social media network, Facebook. This enables the social media platform to show the users with the targeted advertisements. The user will not receive any ad notifications in the messenger platform; instead they will receive ad notifications and friend suggestions in the social media platform.

Most people dislike the idea of Facebook having the details about the person’s WhatsApp conversation; they can disable the settings manually on the instant messenger app itself. The user can follow the simple steps to disable the feature.

The notification about the changes and modifications in the privacy policy and terms of service will be sent to the user. Therefore, the moment when the user opens the app, they will see the page that gives a detailed explanation about the new policy and ask them to agree the new modification so that the service will be enabled in the user account.

  • The users those who wish to disable the feature must tap the Read button on the page.
  • A check box appears with the option that reads, ‘Share my WhatsApp account information with Facebook’.

Since the user does not wish to share the information, they have to uncheck the box.
But some people fail to read the new update and unknowingly agree with the new feature, they still have the option to disable the feature by following some basic steps.

The Android users can proceed with the following steps,

  • The users can see three dots icon at the top right corner of the WhatsApp window.
  • They have to tap that icon which will provide a list of options, the user have to select the ‘Settings’ option from the list.
  • The ‘Settings’ option displays a sub list from which the user has to select the ‘Account’ option.
  • Once when the user clicks the option, a check box appears on the screen which reads ‘Share my account information’ and they have to uncheck the box.

The iOS user can follow these steps,

  • They have to tap the ‘Settings’ option from the list and click on the ‘Account’ option.
  • A check box appears on the screen that states, ‘Share my account information’.
  • The user has to uncheck the box so that they can disable the service from their device.

If the user has not received any notification or the service and terms page or if the app does not show the options for disabling means that the changes for the device has not been rolled out.

Guest Author: Anand Rajendran is the Co-Founder and CEO of Dectar a well known Software products development and Mobile App Development Company based in Chennai, India. He has extensive experience in building and leading innovative and collaborative software development teams to deliver major software applications likeScimbo – Whatsapp Clone Script. He loves exploring new things and sharing his knowledge with others.

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