No, You Can’t Actually Opt-out of WhatsApp/Facebook Data Sharing

Facebook & WhatsApp

Don’t believe posts like this; WhatsApp will soon be sharing user data with Facebook, and there’s nothing you can do about it—except, of course, delete your account and move to another messaging platform.

It’s an abrupt about-face from what the company said when Facebook acquired it for $19 billion in 2014. Back then one of WhatsApp’s co-founders reiterated that user privacy was “coded into our DNA”. Now WhatsApp will disclose users’ phone numbers and usage data to Facebook. Even worse, it will allow advertisers to contact users directly through the app.

WhatsApp says it’s all about avoiding spam and making stronger, deeper connections with friends. And while they say you can opt-out of sharing data with Facebook, it doesn’t ultimately make any difference. Here’s the last paragraph of the company’s FAQ on the subject:

The Facebook family of companies will still receive and use this information 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.

Facebook reportedly uses some 98 data points to track you, whether you’ve an account with them or not. If you continue to use WhatsApp, they’ll soon have your phone number as well.

Sources: DSL Reports, New York Times, reddit, Washington Post