When Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $19.3 billion back in 2014, we all knew this was coming—it just took longer than we thought. But starting today, the data mining became official, and now, information from your favorite messaging app is no longer out of reach for the world's biggest social media site.
The policy change comes in the form of an updated Terms of Service, which you'll be prompted to accept in the coming days. But all signs are pointing towards Facebook and WhatsApp becoming intertwined like never before.
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.
Facebook makes its money through targeted ads, so it only makes sense that they'll be using WhatsApp data to recoup the monetary losses from that near-$20 billion purchase. They clearly state that the actual contents of your messages are off limits, but your contact info and personal phone number are fair game. This identifying information has significant value to advertisers, as it helps make ads more effective by targeting you with specific products and services.
WhatsApp posted instructions for disabling these new data mining "features," but the fine print makes it clear that your phone number and contact information will still be used by Facebook—just not for targeted ads.
The Facebook family of companies will still receive and use this information for other purposes such as improving infrastructure and delivery systems.
Ultimately, this means that if you're a WhatsApp user, Facebook will now know your phone number and other bits of information from your WhatsApp contacts list, and there's nothing you can do about it short of ditching WhatsApp.
With features like end-to-end encryption, WhatsApp has always appealed to privacy-minded users, but this era is now officially over. Are you jumping ship to another messaging platform? Do you know of a better option? Let us know in the comment section below.