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WhatsApp’s Privacy Policy Change & What It Means For Brands

Ranjani Raghupathi

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If you’ve not gotten the notification yet or simply clicked Agree without reading, here’s some news, WhatsApp is changing its terms and privacy policy. Don’t panic, your messages are still fully encrypted and no one will be able to read them. However, this new update answers a lot of questions and speculations we had when Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 Billion.

The internet was then split between two sides. One group assumed the buy would result in advertisements on Whatsapp while the others thought the buy was for all the data. The recent updates have made it obvious that you won’t be getting ads on your Whatsapp, but the rich data will be used for better ad targeting by Facebook and Facebook family of companies. Interestingly, Facebook plans on launching its own mobile ad network.       

To an extent, these are still speculations, given in the next few days you can opt out of Facebook using your data. Only after this allotted time period to opt out ends will Facebook begin to use the data and we’ll know how it actually pans out. However, a loophole here is that even if you opt out, unless all your friends opt out too, your data on their phones might still be accessible. In addition, if you've already added your mobile phone number, Facebook can easily map your Whatsapp account to your profile. 

The silver lining to all this is the wealth of information that advertisers will now have. This could mean that you probably won’t be seeing broad gender or age based ads anymore. The ads you see could be smarter and more relevant to you meaning the amount of spam will reduce significantly.

As an advertiser, it’s still not clear what data brands will have access too. The only thing we know is that it's supposed to make your ads better targeted.

Another angle to this is the use of WhatsApp as a customer service platform. As opposed to public shaming that brands are subjected to on social networks like Twitter and even Facebook, asking people to WhatsApp message a brand seems more private and immediate. With a team and process in place, it could be faster than live chat and address complaints with fewer PR nightmares. Though a monetization angle for Facebook in this route isn’t clear, we’ve seen large brands leverage Whatapp for customer service. 

Watch this space for more news on what the new privacy policy means for brands. We'll write more on this once we know what kind of data Facebook offers advertisers.

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