WhatsApp new T&Cs mean that Facebook is getting some additional advertising targeting data

Anne Freier

In Mobile Advertising Blog. August 26, 2016

WhatsApp, the Facebook messaging app, has announced changes to its privacy policy that state the company will start sharing some user data with Facebook and affiliated subsidiaries such as Instagram. This includes a user’s phone number. Such data will be utilized by Facebook to improve its advertising targeting.
WhatsApp updates T&Cs
Source: whatsapp.com
According to a WhatsApp blog post, the company says that it would be able to track some basic metrics about how often people use its services and fight spam better by coordinating with Facebook.
In addition, it says that Facebook could provide better suggestions for friends and cater more relevant ads. However, it feels like Facebook is trying to fill in missing phone numbers. The company started asking for them quite some time ago, but users aren’t required to add their phone numbers on the social site. This move could automatically add some people’s numbers and match them to their accounts.
That’s a big step for WhatsApp which has been protecting user privacy as one of its hallmark services – until now. However, the Facebook acquisition has made the company prone to driving up revenue for shareholders by any means possible. And where is Facebook’s largest piece of revenue coming from? Mobile advertising.
Indeed, WhatsApp’s original model of charging users $1 for an ad-free service was abandoned once Facebook came in. Despite Facebook claims to keep WhatsApp true to its original idea of being free from advertising, it looks like the messaging company may be succumbing to pressure to replace its business model. Privacy has crumbled in favour for revenue across the app.
For Facebook, the move means that it can now track WhatsApp users and activity feeds as well as engagement rates on the app. In addition, data on a user’s OS, mobile country code, carrier code, screen resolution and device identifier can be obtained. It then could use the data for its Custom Audiences ads to target existing customer contact lists.
Whilst WhatsApp itself offers a partial opt-out, TechCrunch provided some interesting solutions on how to opt-out of the service.
Users can opt-out by not agreeing to the new T&Cs by expanding the view to see the full terms of the service, then scrolling to the bottom and unclicking a check box option for sharing data. The T&Cs can be accepted without checking these boxes.
WhatsApp T&C opt-out on mobile devices
Source: whatsapp.com