I’m an avid WhatsApp user and find it’s great for texting friends while I’m out of the country. I hear that the latest version of WhatsApp is going to share all my personal info and messages with Facebook, though. Super not okay. How do I opt out or prevent WhatsApp from this violation of my privacy?
Yeah, I don’t know what the Facebook team is thinking (WhatsApp is now owned by Facebook) but there was clearly a decision made to say “touch luck” to the privacy of people who were avid users of the popular WhatsApp program. If you don’t opt-out, WhatsApp is going to share lots of your personal info with Facebook, and they even have the steps required to disable it framed like you’re doing something really dumb to opt out!
Even more interesting, you apparently only have a short period of time after you’ve opted in to change your mind and go into your WhatsApp settings and opt out after all. After 30 days it’ll all just happen automatically without you being any the wiser.
Seems like a horrible idea, if you ask me. But I’m not working at Facebook so all I can do is opt out myself and show you how to do the same…
The way you’ll know that you’re at this decision point is when you launch WhatsApp and see this:
And yes, there’s some irony that the top portion says “Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA” while the bottom part, with the little on/off slider, says “Share my WhatsApp account information with Facebook to improve my Facebook ads and products experience.”
Think about that for a second. WhatsApp is going to share your information so that the ad system on Facebook can better and more accurately target you with advertisements. What does that mean? Well, if you use WhatsApp to stay in touch with your cousin in Afghanistan or talk to Mom back in South Africa, or trade dumb jokes with your brother in Mumbai suddenly Facebook ads are going to know that and hit you up with relevant ads. Which is a bit creepy.
So opt out. Facebook probably already has way more information about you already, you don’t need to add to the loss of privacy by letting WhatsApp share that data too.
One way to do so is to use the slider to opt out by sliding it to the OFF position. But let’s say you don’t, you just tapped Agree on the previous screen so you could get to your WhatsApp convo. Are you doomed?
Nope. Not for now, at least. In the program, tap on “Settings” to change your choice:
Now you need to tap on “Account” and you’ll see these options:
You can see another of these sliders by “Share My Account Info” with basically the same explanation of why it’s such a good thing and so beneficial.
In fact, they think it’s such a good idea that they warn you not to disable this choice, as you can see when you go to opt out of the data sharing program:
So dramatic! So scary! So… uh, bogus. Opt out. Just tap “Don’t Share” and hopefully WhatsApp won’t share any of your personal or usage information with Facebook so it can target ads or do anything else with that information.
And now you won’t be able to change the setting and opt back in:
See? It’s greyed out and you can’t even decide to opt back in. Very weird.
But that’s the choice I suggest you want to make. Opt out. Don’t share information between WhatsApp and Facebook. And I’m sure you’ll still get ads on Facebook that are curiously well targeted anyway.