Remember when Facebook bought WhatsApp back in 2014, and one of WhatsApp’s founders, Jan Koum, went on a tear about how the app’s users’ privacy wouldn’t be invaded and your personal information wouldn’t be shared with Facebook? Remember how you totally bought that and thought to yourself, “I strongly believe that WhatsApp will maintain their integrity throughout this process”?
Yeah, me neither.
The following information is confidential
For those of you who missed the memo, the gambit is up: last week, WhatsApp announced that they’ll be sharing your phone number and some other analytic data with Facebook in the coming months, and now we’re all supposed to act surprised and offended.
Show of hands—who actually thought that WhatsApp wasn’t sharing/wouldn’t share data with a third party? Don’t worry—your answer is completely anonymous and I’ll definitely most probably not be sharing it with nobody.
It’s not you, it’s me
Of course, nobody likes having their trust invalidated, and that’s the real issue here.
“Make no mistake: our future partnership with Facebook will not compromise the vision that brought us to this point,” the WhatsApp founder waxed after the transaction.
“If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it.”
Unfortunately for WhatsApp enthusiasts, the old “I’m not going to change because of this relationship” theory didn’t hold up.
“But he made an official statement saying that privacy settings wouldn’t change!” Yeah, no, he didn’t.
Sure, he wrote a sappy letter about censorship and invasion of privacy on a blog that people have been trying to turn into a legal document since the announcement, but that’s hardly an “official statement” and, from a strictly technical standpoint, it means nothing. WhatsApp and Facebook entered into a legally binding contract, the details of which have eluded the public because—surprise, surprise—it’s a private business affair.
Conspiracy theorists unite
The bottom line is this: you’d be hard-pressed to find a company that isn’t sharing your data at this point, regardless of what they tell you in the terms and conditions that you don’t read or the weekly emails that you don’t open. If you honestly can’t stand the thought of your data being passed around—a process which has furthered technology exponentially since its inception, by the way—then get rid of your phone and delete your Facebook account.
And—since we’re rapidly approaching conspiracy theory territory—let’s hash out a couple other favorites of mine: “Snapchat is building a facial database!” (and?); “Pokémon Go is keeping tabs on our location!” (oh, of course—LTE wasn’t already doing that); “The moon is a hologram!” (I wish you were a hologram, Steve).