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WhatsApp & its terms and conditions: Messenger is still safe!

WhatsApp (Image: Freepik)

Many half-truths are currently spreading about WhatsApp and the terms of use. So there is no need to panic.

WhatsApp does not read messages

Let’s start with the good news: WhatsApp is a safe messenger! Neither Facebook nor any other company can see your text and voice messages. What you write to your friends, acquaintances or customers stays between you. Because WhatsApp relies on very good end-to-end encryption.

And the data of German and European users that WhatsApp or the parent company Facebook collect is not used for advertising purposes or sold on to third parties. That is the current state of affairs.

Facebook wants the data from WhatsApp

Now let’s take a quick look back: At the beginning of January 2021, WhatsApp caused a stir. The trigger was a pop-up that appeared in the messenger. This informed the users that they had to agree to the new terms and conditions by February 8 – otherwise they would no longer be able to use WhatsApp afterwards.

The terms of use state, among other things, that WhatsApp will share all data with Facebook in the future. This is not new: the exchange of data outside the EU has existed since 2016. With the data collected, Facebook can improve, individualize and market its services, according to the company.

But: Contrary to many interpretations and media reports, there should still be no data exchange between WhatsApp and Facebook within the European Union. A press officer said to SPIEGEL : “It is still the case that WhatsApp does not share WhatsApp user data from the European region with Facebook, so that Facebook can use this data to improve its products or advertisements.”

The upcoming WhatsApp terms of use and their consequences

There is now confusion. Millions of WhatsApp users are currently looking for alternatives. They switch to Telegram, Threema and Signal in large numbers.

Facebook’s response: “We have heard from numerous people that our recent updates have created a lot of confusion”, it says in a post of the WhatsApp blog. The company also announced that it would not block or delete accounts on February 8th. In addition, the approval period will be extended to May 15.

Another task on Facebook’s to-do list: clearing up false reports and false assumptions. This is how Mark Zuckerberg’s company asserts – among other things in this blog post – that WhatsApp will continue to be safe. The transmission of the messages remains end-to-end encrypted so that Facebook cannot read the content of the messages or the phone calls.

This official diagram explains, for example, that there would still be no transmission of the location or protocol data:

Chart - WhatsApp security (Image: Facebook)What does that mean for entrepreneurs and companies?

WhatsApp is safe, but one catch remains for the time being: The standard version of WhatsApp, which is used privately by over a billion people worldwide, is currently considered to be not GDPR compliant . On no account use the standard version of the Messenger for business, otherwise you will find yourself on thin ice!

But: That doesn’t mean that you have to do without WhatsApp for your company! Facebook also has a data protection-compliant variant up its sleeve – the WhatsApp Business API . This is a special messenger interface for companies.

Selected software partners offer the WhatsApp Business API. Among other things, it is integrated in Chatwerk, where it is 100% hosted on German servers. This allows you to communicate securely and in compliance with GDPR with your customers via WhatsApp. And that’s just as well. Because let’s be honest: Despite all the hustle and bustle, WhatsApp will probably remain the most widely used messenger in the western world.

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