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WhatsApp information sharing – A Threat to Users’ Privacy

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WhatsApp Logo. Image source: Whatsapp.com
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– by Amit Srivastava

Sept 09, 2016: In absence of proper privacy laws for social media and e-commerce companies and complicated prosecution process, big MNCs are taking full leverage of situation to gather, share and market the Indian users’ personal details. Google and Facebook are leading companies involved in manipulation of users’ information.

Recently, it was announced that popular messenger WhatsApp will share information with the Facebook. This has caused an uproar in many countries as it is a direct breach of privacy. On this potential violation, US Federal Trade Commission is reviewing a joint complaint from two consumer privacy groups. European Union regulators have also affirmed that indicated European users need to remain in charge of their personal data.

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In India, such privacy breach generally goes unchallenged. However, in a rare instance, the matter has been contested in Delhi high court by two users Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi. On their petition against WhatsApp’s recent decision to share user data with parent company Facebook, Delhi High Court has sought the government’s response regarding the modification. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra has issued a notice to the Centre and asked the concerned authorities to file their reply by September 14.

Hence it is suggested to every Indian user must opt out of personal information sharing. In India also, Facebook has shared user’s information of Whatsapp with Facebook, without any prior intimation. To avoid this imposed privacy breach, follow these steps:

(i) Go to Whatsapp Settings
(ii) Click on Accounts
(iii) Uncheck “share my account info”

Every WhatsApp users must do it now. Else your personal chat, photos, and videos could be shared with Facebook. Please Alert and inform others about this.
Existing WhatsApp users have time until September 25, 2016, to click through this update and agree or not agree to Facebook using their WhatsApp data to suggest friends and serve ads.

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After this particular date, the company might automatically share the users’ details with Facebook.  Hope, we will have appropriate privacy laws soon to tame top violators like Google and Facebook. Till then, be vigilant about your online privacy.

This abrupt policy change is made, as Facebook eyes to make more profit and this is so because Whatsapp is a more personalised form of staying connected to people. The information, content and the activities of every user are added in ‘Big Data’ of the company. They use this Big Data to earn advertisements, market surveys, consumers profiling and others profit making exchanges. With his change, the arena of Social Media has become more vulnerable and insecure. We need to be extra cautious while putting any personal details even on personal messaging platforms like WhatsApp!     

– Amit is a Freelancer based in India. Twitter: @amisri

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Survey Reveals That 50% of Americans Do Not Know Who Owns WhatsApp

A previous survey by DuckDuckGo found that 56.9 per cent of American adults were unaware that Facebook owns Instagram and 44.6 per cent did not even know that Google owns YouTube

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WhatsApp
Who owns what: 50% Americans don't know who owns WhatsApp, says survey. Pixabay

It may sound bizarre but nearly 50 per cent of Americans who have used WhatsApp in the last six months have no idea who owns the popular mobile messaging platform.

According to a survey by DuckDuckGo, the US-based privacy-protecting search engine, just over half of US citizens (50.42 per cent) do not know WhatsApp is owned by Facebook.

“We randomly selected 1,297 US adults (not just DuckDuckGo users) who are collectively demographically similar to the general population of US adults and surveyed them on August 16, 2018.

“Half of those who used WhatsApp in the past six months weren’t aware that Facebook owns WhatsApp,” said the survey.

The findings also showed that nearly 60 per cent of those who used Waze in the past six months didn’t know that Google owns Waze.

WhatsApp
WhatsApp on a smartphone device.

Waze is a popular GPS navigation software. It works on smartphones and tablet computers that have GPS support.

“This means that a majority of Americans who are using WhatsApp and/or Waze are doing so without realising that all of their information, whether it be routes, travel time, messages, photos, or location data, is privy to Facebook (for WhatsApp) and Google (for Waze),” said the survey.

According to the survey, the lack of awareness over Facebook and Google’s reach is even more alarming as more and more Americans are looking to take control of their privacy online.

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A previous survey by DuckDuckGo found that 56.9 per cent of American adults were unaware that Facebook owns Instagram and 44.6 per cent did not even know that Google owns YouTube.

Facebook in 2014 acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion. Both WhatsApp co-founders – Brian Acton and Jan Koum – have quit Facebook over data privacy and Facebook’s plans to monetise WhatsApp. (IANS)