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WhatsApp now shares your user data with Facebook

WhatsApp
Image: WhatsApp
(Post picture: © 2018 WhatsApp)

Now the time has come. WhatsApp now officially shares user data with Facebook. WhatsApp has been part of the large social media network for several years now. So far, however, there has been no data exchange. Why is that possible now?

WhatsApp began using the Disclosure of Data. But a little over a year ago the Order of the data protection officer Johannes Caspar in force. This should prevent WhatsApp from passing on personal data to Facebook. However, due to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR for short) now coming into force, this order no longer applies. With this, a regulation that should actually protect the user, Facebook opens the gates for data transmission from WhatsApp.

What data is shared

For the time being, the transfer is limited to your telephone number, data on your smartphone and installed software. Your usage behavior is also shared within the app. The company describes it as "the type and frequency" of using features. However, WhatsApp doesn't mention what exactly they mean by that. Messages or the like are not divided by the end-to-end encryption. However, it should not be neglected that WhatsApp knows who you are chatting with. The transfer of your WhatsApp contacts is also not planned. This would not be compatible with the GDPR.

What does Facebook use the data for?

Unfortunately, this question cannot be answered with certainty at the moment. Your data is not only passed on to Facebook itself, but also to "trustworthy [...] third-party providers [...]". Which companies fall into this category and what they are allowed to do with your data is still unclear. It is clear, however, that everything that is done must be GDPR-compliant.

By sharing the data, Facebook also wants to take action against spam and protect you from people who pose a potential security risk. Personal advertising is not planned so far, but this may change in the future. It is important to mention, however, that the GDPR sets clear limits here, which are difficult to break.

What alternatives do I have?

Unfortunately, the only thing left for now is to switch to another messenger such as Threema. Nonetheless, WhatsApp is in the monopoly position of Messenger and will not leave it anytime soon. Even when they started sharing user data in 2016, they didn't suffer much. It is important to carefully observe how the data usage of WhatsApp and Facebook behaves in the future.

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