WhatsApp's new policy 2022: safe or not?

WhatsApp's new policy 2022: safe or not?

WhatsApp regularly makes alterations to its privacy policy. The purpose of the policy is to declare why and how the messaging service may collect and use your personal data, among other important things. In this article we will bring you up to speed on the most important changes to the policy.

What are the new WhatsApp privacy policy updates in 2022?

The most recent alteration to WhatsApp's privacy policy was announced on August 9, 2022. According to WhatApp, the newest changes were introduced with the purpose of providing its users with more layers of protection and more control over messages. While having a much lower impact than last year's policy changes, we believe it is important for you to be aware of the newest additions. Here's a brief summary of the key modifications:

  • Leave a group silently: Some of the group chats where we take part in keep a special place in our hearts. Nevertheless, other groups may be irrelevant to you. From August 2022 you will be able to leave a group chat anonymously, without ringing a bell to other group members. The only person who will be notified about your exit is the group administrator.
  • Manage who can see you online: Previously, all of your WhatsApp contacts were able to see when you are online. This was of course fine with regards to your friends and family, but sometimes it can be nice to check your WhatsApp privately. This new feature allows you to select who can and who cannot see when you're online.
  • Screenshot blocking for View Once messages: In 2021, WhatsApp rolled out the popular 'View Once' functionality, making it possible to share photos and videos that disappear from the chat as soon as they've been opened. Starting August 2022, WhatsApp has added an extra layer of protection to this feature by disabling the possibility to take screenshots of those temporal media files. This way it has become impossible to create a permanent record of those photos and videos intended to be viewed just once.
© WhatsApp

What was changed in the 2021 WhatsApp privacy policy?

The 2021 WhatsApp privacy policy took many users by surprise. That's because from May 15, 2021, the instant messaging tool started sharing data with Facebook's partner companies. Among the information provided are the user's IP address, personal data such as phone number and activity performed, among other information. 

An announcement was published on the WhatsApp blog, in which the company specified that it still has no access to the content of users' correspondence, and, accordingly, will not pass it on to third parties: "WhatsApp was built on a simple idea: what you share with your friends and family stays between you. This means we will always protect your personal conversations with end-to-end encryption so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see these private messages. It’s why we don’t keep logs of who everyone’s messaging or calling. We also can’t see your shared location and we don’t share your contacts with Facebook".

It also said that "We're also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security work on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on 15 May."

It is important to say that user data has already been shared between WhatsApp and Facebook since July 2020. However, until that time, it was possible to choose whether or not to have your information distributed, but this is no longer allowed.

In the official statement, WhatsApp said that the new data policy won’t affect users from the UK and Europe: “There are no changes to WhatsApp’s data-sharing practices in the European region (including UK) arising from the updated Terms of Service and Privacy Policy”.

The text of the new WhatsApp privacy policy also mentions how companies will use this user data. Among the main actions are:

  • Improvement of the delivery system and security;
  • Suggestion of friends, groups and new connections;
  • Content customization;
  • Display of more relevant ads;
  • Assistance in completing purchases and transactions.

Another new feature implemented in the 2021 data policy is the integration between Facebook services and WhatsApp to use Facebook Pay to pay for purchases made by WhatsApp. WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook in 2014. At the time, the company issued a statement saying that user privacy would be maintained, but from 2021 onwards this is no longer the case.

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