WhatsApp: Anyone who does not accept the new terms and conditions by mid-May will be kicked out

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg.

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The year 2021 got off to a bad start for Facebook and its daughter WhatsApp. At the beginning of January every user was shown a warning when opening the app: “WhatsApp is updating its terms of use and its privacy policy”.

In the days that followed, events came thick and fast: data protectionists sounded the alarm and feared that Facebook and WhatsApp would exchange data without restriction in the future, even for marketing purposes. Prominent figures like Elon Musk called for people to switch to their competitor, Signal, who pay more attention to data protection. The ensuing onslaught initially caused signal servers to be overloaded and then a record increase of over 50 million users.

Since then, Facebook has been trying to capture users willing to migrate: the original deadline for agreeing to the terms and conditions was postponed from February 8 to May 15, while the group started an awareness campaign. A WhatsApp manager spoke of “misinformation” on Twitter – and created even more confusion. What is really in store for the users?

Is WhatsApp really sharing more data with Facebook now?

Facebook and WhatsApp have been exchanging data with each other for years. Specifically, the terms of use for Europe say:

As part of the Facebook company, WhatsApp receives information from other Facebook companies and also shares information with other Facebook companies to promote the safety and integrity of all Facebook company products;

In Europe, however, this paragraph is provided with a further note:

None of the information that WhatsApp passes on on this basis may be used for the Facebook companies’ own purposes.

Specifically, this means: Facebook actually receives data from WhatsApp and is also allowed to work with it. For example, the user’s cell phone model, cell phone provider, telephone number or contacts from the phone book are saved. However, due to an EU directive, Facebook is not allowed to use this information for targeted display of advertising. According to WhatsApp and Facebook, users’ chats are encrypted and the content can neither be read nor saved by either company.

This guideline has been around for a long time and WhatsApp emphasized in the “Spiegel” that the new terms and conditions will not result in any extended data exchange with Facebook. For German users, nothing will change in this regard for the time being.

But why is the excitement so great? WhatsApp has different guidelines in the US. There, Facebook can use the messenger’s data for advertising purposes. This is not new either, but so far users have been able to object. This should no longer be possible with the new terms of use. The new terms and conditions are far more serious for US users.

What exactly will change in Germany with the new terms and conditions?

Nevertheless, there are some small changes for German users with the new guidelines.

WhatsApp has been offering companies the ability to contact customers via Messenger for some time. Users who want to travel can get information about the flight from the airline via WhatsApp. The delivery status of some online retailers can also be obtained via WhatsApp. This service should now offer companies better technical possibilities.

In addition, the new WhatsApp terms and conditions are now more detailed and should give users a better overview. You can read the exact wording of the changes here.

What happens if I do not agree to the WhatsApp terms and conditions?

WhatsApp announced in a blog entry in February that it would not delete users’ accounts even if they had not consented by May 15. The service is then no longer available to the usual extent, according to WhatsApp, messages can no longer be read and received “after a short time”. The app is therefore largely useless and WhatsApp advises users to save chat histories beforehand if they do not want to agree.

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