How to opt out of sharing your WhatsApp info with Facebook

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How to opt out of sharing your WhatsApp info with Facebook

Yesterday WhatsApp announced a huge change to its privacy policy that will see it begin sharing information on its users — such as their mobile phone number and last seen status on the app — with its owner company Facebook, and any other companies Facebook owns.

If you’re not happy about that, you have two choices: You can either stop using WhatsApp entirely — if you want to be sure that none of your WhatsApp data ends up on Facebook’s servers.

Or you can exercise the partial opt out WhatsApp is offering users for a short period of time.

WhatsApp has already started pushing out the new terms and conditions — I received a push notification asking to agree to the new T&Cs today. If you want to opt out of sharing your data with Facebook for ad-targeting and product-related purposes, click through the slides to see how to do it…

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New T&Cs incoming

This is the message that appears in the app to notify users of the new WhatsApp T&Cs, while tacitly encouraging you to click ‘Agree’.

As the old saying goes, the devil is in the detail people.

So instead of clicking Agree, tap to read more… 

Always read more.

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What's that, you've reduced my privacy by default?

Now you’ll be able to read the updated terms of service and privacy policy text at your leisure.

Spend as much time as you like on this. But remember to scroll to the bottom where you’ll see a toggle option to share info with Facebook for ad-targeting and “product experiences” purposes.

This data sharing is default opted on. Not cool, WhatsApp, not cool. 

But now you can toggle it off.

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And *breathe*…

This is what you want the T&Cs screen to look like *before* you tap ‘Agree’.

Once you’ve switched the toggle off you’re free to tap Agree — safe in the knowledge you have at least minimized how Facebook can use your WhatsApp data.

It won’t be able to use your WhatsApp data for ad-targeting, or for trying to triangulate the identities of people you know on WhatsApp with Facebook profiles to push more friend recommendations your way.

It will still be able to use your WhatsApp data for some uses though, including “improving infrastructure and delivery systems, understanding how our services or theirs are used, securing systems, and fighting spam, abuse, or infringement activities”, as WhatsApp tells it.

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But wait! What if I already hit agree!

Don’t panic.

If you already tapped Agree without reading the small print and noticing the opt-out option there’s still a way to tell WhatsApp you’d rather it not share your phone number with Facebook so the latter can spam you with more ads.

To do this you need to go to the WhatsApp Settings page in the app, then tap on Account, and then uncheck the ‘Share my account info’ option. Which has the same effect as toggling before you Agree the T&Cs.

However WhatsApp is *only* offering a thirty day window for this Settings-based opt-out — with the clock ticking from the day you tapped ‘Agree’. So you’ll need to get a move on if you want to minimize the privacy intrusion.

So there you have it: from a business originally proclaiming it would never share any personal data, to a Facebook-owned company offering ephemeral, partial privacy rights…

How the mighty have fallen.

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