WhatsApp asserted that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook could see the messages users sent to each other, and they could not hear the conversations over calls either. Apart from that, the platform also did not maintain a record of who was messaging or calling whom, and the groups on WhatsApp were also private. Moreover, the location shared by users could also not be accessed by WhatsApp or Facebook. The instant messaging platform also said that it did not share anyone’s contacts with Facebook. For additional security, it said users could also set their messages to disappear, and they could download their own data.
— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) January 12, 2021
In a newly released FAQ page, the platform said that the recent update was rather related to the managing of businesses on WhatsApp, which is an optional feature businesses can use as it offers some additional features that aid in smooth running of business-to-customer communication.
Among the clarifications on the FAQ pages, the platform repeatedly highlighted that all messages sent on private individual or group chats are protected by end-to-end encryption, including the location that one user shares with another. Apart from that, it also asserted that while telecom service providers do maintain logs of calls and messages, WhatsApp chooses not to do so for its 2 billion users, because it believes that would be a huge privacy and security risk.
The contacts that WhatsApp accesses are only meant to provide users with a quick messaging platform, it said, and WhatsApp did not share these contacts with Facebook.
As for businesses, the platform said that users’ interactions with the business accounts on WhatsApp, which is clearly indicated in the chat, can be used by the businesses to improve their own marketing, and businesses can also choose to share this information with Facebook. This means the users’ chats with businesses regarding any queries, their shopping activities, their purchase receipts, and interaction with businesses across Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram could be collected by Facebook to personalise ads and shopping experiences and product displays across the three Facebook-owned social media platforms, WhatsApp said.