When Facebook bought out WhatsApp for $19 billion back in 2014, the encrypted messaging app’s CEO Jan Koum said, “Here’s what will change for you, our users: nothing. WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently.”
In fact, in a move that seemed to lend some gravitas to this move earlier this year, WhatsApp actually enabled end to end encryption for every user of the app, by default.
But now in what some have labelled a confusing move, Facebook said last Thursday it would soon be sharing user phone numbers with Facebook, helping Facebook in effect start to monetise the messaging juggernaut.
The move will allow Facebook to target advertisements and friend recommendation across the social media network:
“Facebook and the other companies in the Facebook family also may use information from us to improve your experiences within their services such as making product suggestions (for example, of friends or connections, or of interesting content) and showing relevant offers and ads.”
A spokesperson for CNIL, the French data protection commissioner said in a statement:
At the moment, while all the above is cause for privacy advocates to have concern, in real terms, nothing has actually changed yet. The world will have to wait and see just quite how WhatsApp chooses to go ahead with the data sharing move.
The company intends to begin testing before the end of the year.