Everything else.. WhatsApp: How Data Collection Works

WhatsApp: How Data Collection Works

2020 Jan 9

Facebook group is so expanded that it is almost impossible to escape their presence in the social media space. Whether it is photo sharing, general social networking, or peer-to-peer messaging, Facebook Inc. has a widely used app in any category. Some were developed by the company themselves, or acquired from promising competitors, and WhatsApp is one such acquisition that became highly successful. 


This messaging app revolutionised the text-based communication category, which can even be called SMS on steroids (if you know what we mean). This is due to the number of facilities such as multimedia sharing that were provided for the users Free of charge. (PS: – before they were acquired by Facebook, they charged a $0.99 fee after a year)



The Information They Collect From You

Since the app is mobile-number-based, one of the most important assets of information they collect is your mobile number along with other numbers in your address book which are collected on a regular basis. This means WhatsApp gets both contacts of the users who uses the app and doesn’t use the app as well. 


The messages you send are deleted from the servers once they get delivered and the ones which are not delivered will be stored for 30 days on the WhatsApp server as they attempt to deliver same. According to the company, no messages will be stored for over 30 days. 


But to improve performance and efficiency they will store a particular photo or a video which has gone viral and those a lot of people share at the same time. 


Information such as Usage and Logging Details, Transactional, Device and Connection Details are collected automatically by the app.


Furthermore, they receive Third-Party information “which may include information about you” as per their Privacy Statement. These are collected from the people who have you as a contact on their WhatsApp. Also, they receive details from third-parties who help the app to operate, improve, support, etc. 


How They Use the Information They Collect

As per the statement, they use the information for the operations and the security enhancements of the app and its service as well as to communicate information related to other Facebook group apps and services. The policy further states that they don’t have any intention yet to put third-party ad banners on the app.


The app will also use the information they receive from other Facebook products to improve the service and the user experience. Eg: – suggested friends, connections or interesting content. But emphasize the fact that the messages would not be shared with others. 


This suggests that the companies might be using the content and behaviour of the users to aggregate data and increase their value to target you with better ads. 


So let’s say you want to control your WhatsApp usage? You have to use the settings provided In-App such as Privacy Settings. And if you want to delete the account itself, you have to use the Delete Account feature.


When you delete the account, all messages will be deleted from the servers along with any other information that the company no longer need to provide their service. Does this hint that the company will retain some information directly or indirectly even after we delete the account?


“You agree to our data practices, including the collection, use, processing, and sharing of your information as described in our Privacy Policy, as well as the transfer and processing of your information to the United States and other countries globally where we have or use facilities, service providers, or partners, regardless of where you use our Services” 

– WhatsApp Privacy Policy – 


The statement requires the users to be at least 13 years old to use the service, but there is no mention as to how they would ensure the same. 


The WhatsApp Parties will not be liable for any losses, indirect or “incidental” relating to any communication with WhatsApp services. Even if the company has been advised of the possibility of such damages.  


Since WhatsApp acts as a messaging app, unlike Instagram or Facebook which are more content-based, it can be seen there is less privacy risk associated with the app. But since it is now a part of Facebook Inc. it is doubtable how “private” our private information would be given the notorious claims regarding the group of companies. 


On a concluding note, did you know that the maximum aggregate liability that the company will bear is $100? 



Whatsapp Legal Info as of 20th of November 2019. Available at https://www.whatsapp.com/legal/#key-updates


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