The data that WhatsApp collects about you

WhatsApp recently updated its terms of service and privacy policy to enforce the sharing of data from WhatsApp to other products.

Users must accept these new terms of service and privacy policy by 8 February 2021 or they will no longer be able to continue using the application.

“As part of the Facebook family of companies, WhatsApp receives information from and shares information with, this family of companies. We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings,” WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy states.

“This includes helping improve infrastructure and delivery systems, understanding how our Services or theirs are used, securing systems, and fighting spam, abuse, or infringement activities.”

WhatsApp has repeatedly stressed that messages will not be shared with Facebook and remain encrypted and opaque to the company itself.

Facebook companies sharing data

WhatsApp has published an explainer on its website detailing how it shares user information with other Facebook-owned companies.

“As part of the Facebook Companies, WhatsApp receives information from and shares information with, the other Facebook Companies,” WhatsApp states.

“We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings, including the Facebook Company Products.”

The sharing of this data aims to accomplish a number of ends, which include helping to improve infrastructure and delivery systems, as well as to promote safety and security across Facebook products.

This information is also shared to provide integrations that connect WhatsApp with other Facebook products.

“For example, allowing you to connect your Facebook Pay account to pay for things on WhatsApp or enabling you to chat with your friends on other Facebook Company Products, such as Portal, by connecting your WhatsApp account,” WhatsApp states.

The data WhatsApp collects about you

WhatsApp’s privacy policy details precisely what information is collected from users.

These collection mechanics are divided into three categories:

  • User-provided information – Information provided by the user themselves when signing up for and using WhatsApp.
  • Automatically collected information – Data that is collected automatically throughout operation and when certain WhatsApp services are used.
  • Third-party information – Data about WhatsApp users that is collected from third-parties such as other Facebook companies or other users.

We have summarised the basic types of data collection in the table below, as outlined in WhatsApp’s privacy policy.

Category Details
User-Provided Information
Account Mobile phone number and basic information.
Messages Undelivered messages and forwarded media may be temporarily stored on WhatsApp’s servers in an encrypted form.
Connections Phone numbers of contacts uploaded to WhatsApp can be managed by WhatsApp in a manner which does not allow them to be identified by the company.
Status Status information is shared with WhatsApp.
Transactions and Payments WhatsApp processes payment and transaction information such as shipping details and transaction amount if you use the app’s payment systems.
Customer support Users can divulge information to WhatsApp customer support of their own volition.
Automatically Collected Information
Usage and log data WhatsApp collects “service-related, diagnostic, and performance information” in addition to other data about user activity. This includes when you registered, what services you use, your profile photo, whether you are online, your “Last Seen” date, and more.
Device and Connection WhatsApp collects hardware information such as smartphone model, operating system information, battery level, signal strength, app version, browser information, mobile network, connection information (including phone number, mobile operator or ISP), language and time zone, IP address, device operations information, and identifiers (including those unique to other Facebook products).
Location Precise location information is collected if and when the user has opted into location-related features and uses them. In addition, IP addresses and phone number area codes are used to estimate your general location.
Cookies WhatsApp uses cookies to “operate and provide our Services, including to provide our Services that are web-based, improve your experiences, understand how our Services are being used, and customize them”.
Third-Party Information
Data from others WhatsApp collects and stores information about you from other users, such as your phone number and name.
“You should keep in mind that in general any user can capture screenshots of your chats or messages or make recordings of your calls with them and send them to WhatsApp or anyone else, or post them on another platform,” WhatsApp states.
User reports Other users or third parties who report you may provide information about you to WhatsApp.
Businesses on WhatsApp Businesses interacting with customers may provide information about their interactions with you to WhatsApp.
Service Providers WhatsApp states that it works with third-party service providers and other Facebook-owned companies to help it improve its services. “These companies may provide us with information about you in certain circumstances; for example, app stores may provide us with reports to help us diagnose and fix service issues,” WhatsApp states.
Third-Party Services WhatsApp allows you to use its services in connection with other third-party services or Facebook-owned companies.
“If you use our Services with such third-party services or Facebook Company Products, we may receive information about you from them; for example, if you use the WhatsApp share button on a news service to share a news article with your WhatsApp contacts, groups, or broadcast lists on our Services, or if you choose to access our Services through a mobile carrier’s or device provider’s promotion of our Services,” WhatsApp states.

Now read: WhatsApp users must share data with Facebook or stop using the app

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The data that WhatsApp collects about you