WhatsApp users worldwide will receive a prompt over the course of the next few days that moves the application one step closer to its parent company Facebook.
As you know, Facebook acquired WhatsApp back in 2014 for $19 billion. While it pushed one of the most successful messaging products into Facebook's product lineup, many wondered how the company was turning WhatsApp into a profitable product.
WhatsApp subscriptions were thrown out the door in early 2016, and no other form of revenue generation was introduced.
It was clear that Facebook had only two main options to generate revenue from WhatsApp: data sharing, or advertisement.
Apparently, both are coming to WhatsApp as the prompt displayed to users suggests. WhatsApp spins it as something good for the user, that it can better fight spam and abuse for instance by sharing data with Facebook. Facebook may display better ads on its site as well thanks to the data sharing.
Users need to agree to the new terms to continue using WhatsApp. They may however opt out of some of the data sharing with Facebook if they tap on the read more link.
Since most probably won't, there is still an option to block your phone number from being shared with Facebook after the prompt has been accepted.
Block WhatsApp from sharing your phone number with Facebook
To disable the sharing of account information after you accepted the prompt, do the following:
- Open WhatsApp on your Android device.
- Tap on the three dots to open the menu.
- Select Settings from the menu that opens.
- Select Account on the settings page.
- Tap on "Share my account info" to disable this.
The info box below the share my account info option reads:
Share my WhatsApp account information with Facebook to improve my Facebook ads and products experiences. Your chats and phone number will not be shared onto Facebook regardless of this setting.
It needs to be noted that this is not a full opt-out as WhatsApp will still share data for other purposes "such as improving infrastructure and delivery systems, understanding how our services or theirs are used, securing systems, and fighting spam, abuse, or infringement activities" with Facebook.
WhatsApp published a FAQ that answers several of the most important questions that users may have:
Will there be ads on WhatsApp?
Short answer: no third-party apps, no spammy experience.
WhatsApp plans to bring businesses and users together however, for instance by providing users with delivery and shipping notifications from companies they ordered products from.
In the future, we will explore ways for you and businesses to communicate with each other using WhatsApp, such as through order, transaction, and appointment information, delivery and shipping notifications, product and service updates, and marketin
What information is shared with Facebook, and Facebook family companies?
The answer is rather vague, as it mentions that "some information" will be shared. An example given mentions "some" of the account information that includes the phone number.
Will information that users share on WhatsApp be visible on Facebook?
Nothing you share on WhatsApp, including your messages, photos, and account information, will be shared onto Facebook or any of the Facebook family of apps for others to see.