WhatsApp will soon start sharing users’ phone numbers with it’s parent Facebook, marking a notable shift in its stance on privacy.
However, this change in policy – WhatsApp’s first since the deal – will allow for more relevant advertisements and friend recommendations on Facebook, according to a WhatsApp blog post.
“By coordinating more with Facebook, we’ll be able to do things like track basic metrics about how often people use our services and better fight spam on WhatsApp. And by connecting your phone number with Facebook’s systems, Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them,” read the blog.
“For example, you might see an ad from a company you already work with, rather than one from someone you’ve never heard of.”
WhatsApp sought to reassure users by saying that it would not sell, share, or give users’ phone numbers to advertisers.
The company also maintained that messages on the service were encrypted by default and that it would not allow banner advertisements from third parties.
“Our belief in the value of private communications is unshakeable,” WhatsApp said in the post.
Koum had outlined his approach to privacy in a blog post after the deal with Facebook, drawing on his own experiences of growing up in Ukraine during the Soviet era.
But some users were not convinced by the shift in WhatsApp’s stance.
WhatsApp users can choose not to share account information with Facebook.
The shared data will also help WhatsApp track information about how often people use its services and tackle spam on the service, it said on Thursday.
WhatsApp, which is has more than 1 billion users, will also explore ways for businesses to send messages using its platform over the next several months. The app also dropped its $1 fee for some of its users earlier this year and said it was experimenting making businesses pay to reach their customers through the service.
How to opt out of targeted ads
Canadian users can opt out of Facebook’s targeted advertising through the Digital Advertising Alliance of Canada’s website.
The good news is this doesn’t just apply to Facebook – you are able to see all of the companies that participate in this type of advertising. The site will run a check to see how many companies have enabled customized ads for your browser and allow you to opt out of some, or all of them.
– With files from Global News’ Nicole Bogart