- WhatsApp changes the terms of service to force users to share personal data including phone numbers and locations with the parent company Facebook.
- Some critics, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, have suggested that users move to the encrypted messaging apps Signal and Telegram.
- A WhatsApp representative told Ars Technica that the change was to let companies store WhatsApp chats using Facebook infrastructure.
- The messaging app sells itself as a privacy-focused service.
- Visit the Business Insider website for more stories.
WhatsApp, the encrypted messaging app that sells itself as a privacy-focused service, will begin forcing users to share personal data with Facebook, the parent company.
In an announcement sent to users on Wednesday, WhatsApp said users had to agree to let Facebook and its subsidiaries collect WhatsApp data, including users ̵
If users do not agree by February 8, they will lose access.
The move asked users to delete their WhatsApp accounts and switch to less encrypted messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram.
“Signal and Telegram are now better options if you’re concerned about your privacy,” tweeted TechCrunch editor Mike Butcher. He shared comparisons of the data WhatsApp collects against what Signal and Telegram collect.
—Mike Butcher (@mikebutcher) January 7, 2021
Tesla CEO Elon Musk was among those who advised users to switch services, tweeting “Use signal.”
Nine hours earlier, Musk appeared to criticize Facebook, via a sardonic meme, which is responsible for the rebels who attacked the American Capitol on Wednesday.
Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014, and in 2016 it gave users a one-time chance to opt out of sharing app data with Facebook.
A WhatsApp spokeswoman told Ars Technica that the change was to let companies store WhatsApp chats using Facebook’s wider infrastructure.
A WhatsApp spokesman did not clarify why the platform decided to make the change, but added that it would not affect users in the EU and the UK.
WhatsApp founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum left the company in 2017 and 2018. Acton has talked about his resignation, which followed the decision to introduce ads to WhatsApp, and has asked people to “delete Facebook.”
Koum’s departure was also surrounded by reports that he had collided with management over the company’s approach to users’ privacy on WhatsApp.