WhatsApp is a popular messaging app, and like all popular apps, it caught the attention of a much, much bigger fish. Facebook purchased the company a few years back and promised that it would continue to function exactly as it always had, privacy and all.
That was nice while it lasted.
A new WhatsApp update lets Facebook access all of the information from your WhatsApp profile, including your phone number. While Facebook does not share phone numbers with advertisers (in theory), it’s still yet another link in an increasingly long daisy chain of personal information making its way online. In case you want to opt out, you can — but be warned that if you accidentally accepted the new Terms of Service, you have only 30 days to do so.
If you’re just updating/installing WhatsApp
1. When WhatsApp gives you the Terms of Service screen, don’t click agree. Instead, scroll down to where it says “read more.”
2. Uncheck the box that starts “Share my WhatsApp account information with Facebook.” Then click Agree.
If you already agreed to the updated Terms of Service
In the words of Douglas Adams, “don’t panic!” You still have 30 days to change your mind. Go to Settings, then Account. There will be a box labeled “Share my account info.” Simply uncheck it, and you’re done.
If 30 days have already elapsed and you didn’t update your settings, you’re out of luck. Facebook now has your phone number, and may continue to possess it, even if you cancel your WhatsApp account. That’s what you agreed to when you accepted the Terms of Service. At this point, you can either change your number, or just hope against hope that Facebook never shares it with third parties.