“[B]y 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,” WhatsApp writes in a blog on the change today.
This is undoubtedly a huge step-change for a service that has typically prided itself on championing user privacy, including completing a rollout of end-to-end encryption across its entire service earlier this year and continuing to fight requests from authorities to hand over user data.
But once WhatsApp agreed to be acquired by data-mining social network giant Facebook, back in February 2014, the writing was arguably on the wall for any pro-privacy stance.
However, two Delhi-based users challenged the WhatsApp’s announcement in the high court, saying it severely compromises the rights of its users. Hearing their petitions, a bench headed by Chief Justice G Rohini directed WhatsApp not to share any user data collected till September 25, 2016, with Facebook or any other related company.
“We are of the view that it is always open to the users of WhatsApp, who do not want their information to be shared with Facebook, to opt for deletion of their account,” the court said.
At the time of the acquisition Facebook said it would be keeping the messaging giant independent, despite some obvious overlap with its own Facebook Messenger app.
Facebook is in the business of monetizing usage via interest-based advertising fed by harvesting the personal data of its users. WhatsApp’s original business model, of charging users a small yearly subscription fee for an ad-free messaging service, was discontinued after Facebook took over ownership of the service.