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WhatsApp reneged on its promise to separate data from Facebook, so why should news organisations care about respecting privacy?

Unless you live under a rock, you are most likely aware that WhatsApp has updated its privacy policy and terms of service to  force all but its EU-based users to agree to new rules for sharing their data with Facebook – presumably only metadata, not actual messages.

Users are free to reject the move, as long as they don’t expect to continue using the popular messaging service.

WhatsApp's new choices for non-agreeing

The move has sparked public outrage, and comes almost six years after stating that its (then) new relationship with Facebook would not come with a privacy price.

But, what part of this new move is unexpected? None.

What part of this annoys news publishers who carefully and prudently comply to readers’ privacy wishes and regulatory bodies’ privacy demands? All of it.

Privacy is the glue that holds together the news media and the people it serves and reports about. Without a commitment to it the profession will face a guaranteed and

But let’s just wait and see if this binning of user privacy has any toll on the tech giant, or if the outrage is merely confected.

Care to take bets 😉?

For your information, here are WhatsApp’s latest Terms of Service for non-EU citizens and privacy policy. And here is a link to what it had to say in 2014 about its Facebook merger. And for added interest, here’s Google’s own PDF playbook for publisher privacy and the Council of Europe’s Guidelines on Safeguarding Privacy in the Media.

Update (13/01/2021). WhatsApp has finally attempted to address the public furor and reassure people that they are not accessing or sharing calls and texts or recording call and message logs. Read the response here.

2014 WhatsApp said no changes in privacy