The creators of WhatsApp once stated in a 2012 blog post: “Advertising isn’t just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought.”
They gave users the expectation of an ad-free messaging platform – proudly stating their engineering efforts go toward fixing bugs and adding new features, not “writing better code to collect all your personal data.”
As they said it: “That’s our product and that’s our passion. Your data isn’t even in the picture. We are simply not interested in any of it.”
This means the information they collect will be used to show users more targeted advertisements and better friend suggestions on Facebook. It also means users will start getting messages from companies “tailored” to them personally.
In 2014, Facebook acquired WhatsApp. At the time of the acquisition, WhatsApp creators wrote a blog post ensuring users that “nothing” would change for them.
This change has reignited concerns around privacy – and how supposedly “free” services like WhatsApp and Facebook continue to collect its user’s personal data for profit. Some might consider personalized, relevant ads an enhancement of the service, while others will feel the move is an invasion of privacy. So, how should WhatsApp users think about the change?
Privacy campaigner, Aral Balkan, weighed in on the case against such a move:
“If we continue to delude ourselves that companies like Facebook and Google are somehow forces for good in the world instead of factory farms for human beings—and unless we start regulating them as such—we are going to have our human rights eroded one policy update at a time, like slowly boiling frogs.”
However, as a WhatsApp user, you do still have some control of your privacy.
So what seems to be the general consensus? Tech news site Gizmodo summed the news up by saying, “The sentiment that WhatsApp is an app that protects and cares for your privacy is no longer a reality. It was nice while it lasted.”