Are our chats and calls safe with new Terms of Service?

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In recent days there was an intense discussion about new WhatsApp’s Terms of Service. Are they so bad for our privacy? In our small way we would like to say what we have discovered about.


Common questions Answers
Topic about? New Terms of Service
Previous article? WhatsApp is going to update their Terms of Service in 2021
Where can I read new Terms of Service? Terms of Service are available here.
I’ve wrongly accepted new Terms of Service! Can I revoke them? No.
I wrongly declined new Terms of Service! What to do? WhatsApp will present the new Terms of Service again.
What happens if I don’t accept new Terms of Service? You won’t be able to use WhatsApp anymore until you accept them.

As we know today, WhatsApp is going to update their Terms of Service to reflect new changes about tools used from businesses.
We don’t know generally how they process those shared data (likely metadata) with their parent company, Facebook, in order to generate targeted advertisements, but there is an important detail out called solution providers.
A solution provider is a way to offer specific tools to businesses, in order to help them to read, store and manage messages received from you, and it’s the core of the new updated Terms of Service.
Facebook can be a solution provider for some business accounts: the choice depends on the business, that can also contact a third-party company.
As mentioned in this official WhatsApp FAQ, Facebook will not automatically use our messages to inform the ads that we see, but businesses can indirectly do it.
Businesses might use all chats they receive to improve your experience on all Facebook Family of Apps platforms (Facebook, Instagram…), providing targeted advertisements, based on their own privacy policy. This is possible because these businesses store all chats, so they can be used for their marketing purposes.
WhatsApp and Facebook have no control about these businesses, and they recommend to contact those business accounts to ask more clarifications about their privacy practices.

But… how do we know if a business uses a solution provider? WhatsApp is very transparent about it: every time you start a chat with a business account that uses a solution provider, a system message will appear at the top of your conversation:

Note that a business might start to use a solution provider after some time: in this case WhatsApp will immediately add a system message about this event in the chat. Previous messages aren’t collected from the solution provider, but new ones might be used for marketing purposes.
If you don’t like this situation, and you don’t trust the business you’re chatting with because it uses a solution provider (due to their privacy practices), you can simply stop chatting with them.

Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp, declares in his topic that “It does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family”:

In fact your chats, messages, calls, status updates and location sharing are still, and always, end-to-end encrypted and completely safe: it means nobody, neither Facebook and WhatsApp, can read or listen to them. Everything stays between you and the contacts and groups you choose, except if you chat with a business that uses a solution provider with bad privacy practices, where your messages are collected for marketing purposes.

So a solution provider, having bad privacy practices, might violate this concept. Again, WhatsApp invites to contact those businesses that use solution providers to ask for clarifications about how they use our messages. The choice is always yours: you can simply decide to not chat with them if you have doubts about their privacy policy.


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