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WhatsApp Users Concerned Over Data Usage

The WhatsApp Messenger, often referred to simply as WhatsApp, is a fully integrated online messaging and Voice-over-IP (VoIP) service that has gained a lot of popularity as of late. Since it combines so much functionality into a single package, it's great for modern mobile users who are always on the go.

However, recent concerns over privacy – many of which revolve around their parent company, Facebook – are threatening to derail the app's popularity. Some experts, like Elon Musk, are even calling for current users to ditch WhatsApp in favor of other, more secure platforms.

'''What's the Problem?'''

The primary issue comes down to the fact that WhatsApp is actively sharing user data with Facebook. Although they've been doing this for years, and despite the fact that it's clearly stated in their privacy policy, certain watchdog groups and online privacy advocates are doing whatever they can to prevent further data sharing. Certain elements have even been temporarily halted in the EU.

Although most critics of WhatsApp are quick to recommend alternative platforms for its current user base, it's important to remember that WhatsApp already offers end-to-end encryption on all their messages. While it's true that some information is shared between the messaging app and Facebook, this data never contains your private messages. In many cases, you can even opt out of certain practices.

WhatsApp provided more detail on the subject in a recent blog post, which read: ''"By coordinating more with Facebook, we'll be able to do things like track basic metrics about how often people use our services and better fight spam on WhatsApp. And 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."''

Generally speaking, the data collected by WhatsApp and shared with Facebook is used to provide relevant ads – resulting in more clicks and sales – on your own Facebook feed. Instead of displaying randomized ads, Facebook – and other sites – use this data to advertise products and services that align with your shopping habits, your perceived needs, or even your past shopping history.

An Ongoing Issue

Unfortunately, the clarifications and comments made by WhatsApp weren't enough to satisfy the concerns of their toughest opponents. In response, the Electronic Privacy Information Center recently filed their complaint with the Federal Trade Commission regarding WhatsApp and their data-sharing practices.
But this is an ongoing issue that will likely continue for quite some time. Even more recently, WhatsApp postponed a planned update to their privacy policy. As a result, WhatsApp users now have until May to read and accept their new policy, so those who still use WhatsApp still have some time left to make their decision.

However, everyone is still in the dark regarding the future of WhatsApp. What originally burst onto the scene as a secure means of communication has quickly become a hotbed of debate in the topic of online privacy – and it doesn't seem like the conversation is going away any time soon.


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