WhatsApp Starts Sharing Your Number with Facebook

WhatsApp users, get ready for messages from companies looking for your business.

That’s the upshot from Thursday’s update to WhatsApp’s terms and conditions. The company outlined in a blog post the kind of interactions it wants to enable, including more targeted ads, being notified by your bank about a potentially fraudulent transaction or being warned about a delayed flight. In order to do this, WhatsApp will share your phone number with Facebook’s system.

If you’re using WhatsApp then you might have notice a little message asking you to accept some new terms and conditions. If you haven’t seen the pop-up yet then you might need to restart the app on your smartphone. Those of you who have seen the new Ts&Cs pop-up… you just clicked Accept, didn’t you?

That was probably what WhatsApp and its parent company Facebook were hoping you’d do. If you weren’t paying attention then you’ve just given WhatsApp permission to share your phone number and your other account info with Facebook, so that the social network can improve targeted advertising to you. On Facebook, that is — not on WhatsApp. You still won’t be seeing any third-party ads there. Even so, do you see what happens when you don’t pay attention to the terms and conditions?

If you jumped the gun and agreed to this new arrangement without thinking, there’s still time to opt out. You have 30 days to do so, in fact, before the data-sharing arrangement becomes permanent. Inside the app you just need to head to Settings and then Account. In there you should see an option to Share My Account… untick that box and you’ll keep your messaging and Facebook wholly separate for a while longer. And your precious phone number out of Facebook’s hands. Kinda.

The reasoning for all these changes? WhatsApp is going to be working more closely with Facebook in future, as well as businesses that might want you to communicate with them via WhatsApp, and they need your permission before doing so. And if, “…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”, then so be it.

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