Facebook assured us last week by email : French users don’t have to worry, their personal data on WhatsApp will not be shared with Facebook. But is this really true? In fact, it seems that Facebook has mostly passed a black belt in the art of ambiguous formulations. Since the publication of the first articles on the sharing of personal data between WhatsApp and Facebook, the press service of the social network seems to be doing the rounds of the editorial staff, asking them to clarify two things in their articles.
First, that if you do not agree to the terms of WhatsApp, your account will not be closed. Your account will nonetheless become unusable with the messaging application. The other thing Facebook obviously cares about is referring us to the Twitter account of Niamh Sweeney, WhatsApp manager for the EMEA region: “There is no change in WhatsApp data sharing practices resulting from this update in Europe“.
WhatsApp: Facebook seems to protect itself with convoluted formulas, but what’s the truth?
And to continue: “WhatsApp still does not share WhatsApp user data with Facebook”. By adding an important precision: “… For the purpose of Facebook using this data to improve its products or advertisements”. The brand also refers us to this group press release:
So what was our astonishment on learning that representatives of the social network have given another story aside to our colleague Raphael Grably from BFM TV : “For information (because we discussed it with several journalists): @FacebookFR confirms to me that WhatsApp will share information related to phone number, IP address and transactions (when the function will be available in France) with Facebook, including in FR“. The latter refers several times to the WhatsApp FAQ to support his comments.
Some shares between WhatsApp and Facebook become de facto mandatory in France
Raphael Grably Facebook is therefore right to say that nothing has changed, except that the sharing detailed in the FAQ has so far not concerned everyone. With the acceptance of the mandatory conditions to continue to access the service, this collection therefore also becomes de facto compulsory from May 15 – including in France. Furthermore, the clarification that Facebook cannot use this data to deliver targeted advertising is obviously not absolute. The French conditions of WhatsApp indeed specify “If in the future we decide to share such data with Facebook Entities for this purpose, we will first reach an agreement with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner in order to establish a mechanism that allows such use ”.
All of these changes seem to be aimed at addressing a real problem for Facebook: the whatsapp monetization. The new conditions thus specify “We are looking for ways for people and businesses to communicate with each other through WhatsApp. For this, we may need to collaborate with other Facebook Entities to help people find companies that interest them and communicate with them via WhatsApp. Thus, Facebook can give users the ability to communicate with businesses that they find on Facebook through WhatsApp ”.
Also read: WhatsApp, Facebook, Signal, Telegram – this is the data that apps really collect
So who to believe? Is Facebook trying to mislead WhatsApp users? We asked the social network for explanations by email. We will update this article as soon as we have a response.
For information (because we discussed it with several journalists): @FacebookFR confirms to me that WhatsApp will share the information related to the phone number, the IP address and the transactions (when the function will be available in France) with Facebook, including in FR
– Raphael Grably (@GrablyR) January 19, 2021