WhatsApp: No data sharing with Facebook in the EU region

The year started with some disturbing news for many WhatsApp users. This is because an update to the terms of use, which was first rolled out in the US, allows data from WhatsApp to be shared with Facebook in the future. However, it has now been announced that this will not be the case in the EU region.

In recent notifications within the app, WhatsApp informed its users about the new terms of service. However, WhatsApp spokespeople have now clarified to various media outlets that there “will be no changes to WhatsApp’s data-sharing practices in the European region (including the UK), resulting from the updated Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.”

Speaking to Golem, a spokeswoman for the company also commented, “to be clear: it remains the case that WhatsApp in the European region does not share WhatsApp user data with Facebook to improve Facebook products or advertising.” The question why exactly this is currently explicitly allowed in, for example, the German version of the privacy policy, hasn’t been answered yet.

Separate update for EU users

WhatsApp’s announcement thus causes a lot of confusion for users in the European region. The company also told WinFuture that there is a separate update to the terms of service in the EU “according to which WhatsApp users’ data will continue not to be shared with Facebook.”

Hopefully, by February 8th, 2021, when the new terms of service are supposed to take effect, the company will provide more concrete details within the app – and not just in the form of brief notices to the media – for its users.

Changes caused a rush to competitors

WhatsApp and Facebook’s announcement caused a rush in the past few hours to rival messengers that can be seen as alternatives to WhatsApp, despite the exceptions for users in Europe.

For example, the developers of Signal reported via Twitter that the transmission of verification codes could only be delivered with delays. By now, however, they claim to have already solved these problems.

Everyone should be able to register without delay again. Thanks to all of the carriers who flipped the right switches so that people can keep switching.

— Signal (@signalapp)
January 7, 2021

One of the reasons for this rush may not least have been a tweet by Tesla CEO Elon Musk to his nearly 42 million followers. In a message from January 7th, he simply wrote: “Use Signal.” He did not mention WhatsApp or Facebook by name. Musk, however, had been critical of the company more often in the past.