Whatsapp - Should I be worried?

Rene du Preez

Whatsapp - Should I be worried?

There has been a lot of talk recently about the update on the terms of service and privacy policy of Whatsapp, which is coming into effect as of 8 February 2021. In the meantime, they have delayed this rollout for three months.  While there is a lot of misinformation out there, experts claim that the new policy does not have a great impact on consumers. 

What does Whatsapp/Facebook say about the update? 

Whatsapp has now released a clarification, with full detail being provided in the FAQ section of their website. The most important points:

  • Whatsapp says your privacy won’t be affected.
  • Your private messages with friends and family will not be affected or shared.
  • Messages from business accounts will be affected, when using optional added features for messaging and advertising.

End-to-end encryption, much like the kind that protects your card details when you transact online, is used to protect your private messages. No logs or backups of your messages and calls are kept by Whatsapp or Facebook. Nor are your contacts shared with anyone. 

What the Whatsapp update means for you

In essence, the sharing of data will be on how you interact with businesses on the app. These businesses will be able to use Facebook’s Shops platform to display their products on Whatsapp. If you shop from businesses that are using the Shops platform, your shopping activity data will be shared with Facebook and it will be used to show ads on Facebook and Instagram. Additionally, Facebook will soon allow you to message businesses using WhatsApp using a button on its platform. When you message a business on WhatsApp, Facebook will be able to use this to data to show your similar ads on its platform.

What you can do to protect yourself

If you are concerned about your off-Facebook activity being tracked and used by advertisers, here are a few points to consider for privacy protection:

  • Exit the Facebook app and site while not in use on all your devices, or set up your device to automatically log you out if not in use. 
  • Turn off location settings on your device.
  • Check that your posts and information on your Facebook profile (About, Interests, Check Ins,Questions etc)  provides as little private information as possible.
  • Do a privacy checkup on your Facebook account under Settings/Privacy to limit who sees your information and what can be done with it.
  • Clear your history and turn off your Off-Facebook Activity under Settings/your Facebook Information/Off-Facebook Activity
  • Clear your browsing history and cookies* on your internet browser. In Chrome this is under Settings/Clear browsing history or Settings/Cookies and other data. 

* Cookies are small pieces of data that are used to identify your computer as you use the internet. The aim is to improve your browsing experience such as remembering username and password, preferences etc. It also lets advertisers identify users so that they can serve you ads on platforms such as Google and Facebook based on your history

What the update means for advertisers

Ultimately, it is wise to remember that the internet can be a dangerous place for private information. It is up to the user to protect their own information as far as possible and personally acceptable. As soon as you post your information or assets online, it is no longer within your control.

Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp are free platforms which means they need to make money somehow. This they do by gaining advertising income, and they will forever find new ways of supplementing their income. This is good news for advertisers, as the update promises new options and opportunities for advertising to those individuals who opt in to having their information shared. These opportunities will become clear over the coming months. It does however beg the question of whether Facebook targeting will be effective if individuals protect their personal information. 

DMM experts are trained in Facebook advertising, and will be sprucing up our skills in 2021. Refined targeting is something we work on constantly. We will update you with the latest advertising options and the impact on you as the advertiser. Get in touch to stay informed.

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Rene du Preez

AuthorRene du Preez

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