It’s a move that we could almost feel coming after the application became free. Facebook will now be able to see phone numbers from WhatsApp to allow “better friend suggestions”. Not only that, but they want to let third parties send you “marketing texts” through WhatsApp instead of the usual SMS method. Wow. That’s nice. I do tire of having to receive all those PPI messages through boring old text messages. It’s a good job that they’ll be coming in over my data connection via WhatsApp instead. Thanks guys. Nothing to do with this being cheaper for the companies involved or as a way to fill your already-bulging bank balance? No? Sure?
The Facebook / WhatsApp logic is that, by doing this, they will stop any need for displaying adverts in the application. So, instead of spam popping up on your screen, you get spam popping up on your screen and they get a guaranteed revenue stream. Result.
Of course, the company sees it differently and promises that your encrypted messages will never be shared. Just your phone numbers, for now.
I might sound pessimistic here, but let’s not forget how easily Facebook can connect your WhatsApp info with your Facebook info. The combined detail has a huge amount of pulling power – for advertisers, for retailers, for loan companies and many more in-between.
WhatsApp is keen to point out that they won’t sell your data, but it looks very much like they’re going to offer a contact service for organisations. They point out circumstances where your bank may want to contact you about a fraudulent transaction, or flight information could be sent to you before your holiday.
Have a look at the blog post yourself and see what you think.
Of course, you probably sign a lot of privacy away when you download most apps – especially on Android – but at least you can opt out of this particular data sharing within WhatsApp by deselecting the box under the new Ts&Cs that’ll appear.