Since the purchase of WhatsApp by Facebook back in 2014, users have been wondering if their data would ever be compromised. WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum has tried to keep users calm by saying that protecting users' privacy is coded in the company's DNA.
As it stands right now, things are not the same as they were two years ago. WhatsApp has softened its stance and will now share some user data with its parent company Facebook.
In a recent blog post, WhatsApp said that it will share limited user data, along with phone numbers, with Facebook. According to the messaging platform, sharing this information with Facebook means it will have the chance to better offer friend suggestions in the near future.
By mapping social contact between the two services, it is hoped that WhatsApp users would be able to find friends via Facebook who are not on their smartphone's contact list. Smart move, but some are wondering if Facebook plans on using this information for other means.
What's interesting here is the fact that the messaging service wants to find out how it can get businesses to contact customers via WhatsApp. It would be like an airline sending a notification about a possibly delayed flight, or a clothing store notifying customers of the latest deals.
The company notes that users will have the option to manage these communications. From that statement, we believe users will be able to turn them off whenever they want. Furthermore, WhatsApp says this move will not include banner ads being incorporated into the service.
WhatsApp is trying its best to keep users from being annoyed with the upcoming changes. This will still likely be a difficult task, but the company can maintain proof of its commitment to keep user data private. An example of that is the app being temporarily banned in Brazil because of WhatsApp's refusal to release data to the government.
"Even as we coordinate more with Facebook in the months ahead, your encrypted messages stay private and no one else can read them," says the company in a blog post. "Not WhatsApp, not Facebook, nor anyone else. We won't post or share your WhatsApp number with others, including on Facebook, and we still won't sell, share, or give your phone number to advertisers."
This is good news, but only time will tell if users will feel comfortable with everything that is going on. Facebook is not trusted due to reports earlier this year, claiming the company tracked smartphones' locations to provide the users with friend suggestions.