For days, WhatsApp and parent company Facebook have been under heavy criticism for the new WhatsApp terms and conditions that will take effect on February 8, 2021. Many WhatsApp users fear that personal data will be shared with Facebook despite end-to-end encryption. This is wrong.

New WhatsApp terms and conditions from February 8, 2021

WhatsApp, the extremely popular messenger in Germany and also globally, has been under continuous criticism for several days. The reason for this is the new WhatsApp T&Cs, which will be effective from February 8, 2021.

The discussion flared up at the beginning of January 2021 when the first WhatsApp users saw the corresponding pop-up in the application. The users’ biggest fear is that the end-to-end encryption, which is considered unbreakable, will allegedly be softened.

WhatsApp warns: end-to-end encryption remains; private chats still secure

Since the rumors do not subside despite all the explanations, WhatsApp apparently feels compelled to make some clarifications with regard to the new terms and conditions. Therefore, the company has posted an overview on Twitter.

The most important findings:

  • Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can read your private messages or listen in on your calls.
  • WhatsApp does not store logs of calls or messages.
  • Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see your shared location information.
  • WhatsApp does not share your contact information with Facebook.
  • WhatsApp groups remain 100 percent private.

In addition, the messenger still points out that any user can activate expiring messages and any user can download their own WhatsApp data at any time.

Our privacy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family.

Exception for WhatsApp chats with businesses

The new WhatsApp T&Cs therefore do not mean a softening of end-to-end encryption in the private sphere. At the same time, however, WhatsApp explains in a blog post that there is an exception: Communication with businesses via WhatsApp.

“When you communicate with a business via phone, email or WhatsApp, they may use the information from those interactions with you for their own marketing purposes,” WhatsApp writes. However, all corresponding chats will receive a clear label, according to the messenger.

And also, “when you interact with stores, your shopping activities can be used to personalize your shopping experience with stores and also the ads you see on Facebook and Instagram.”

However, Messenger emphasizes that this option is optional. Again, WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram transparently inform all users about the use and sharing of data.

Exemption for European and German users in new WhatsApp T&Cs.

What’s more, the new data protection provisions, which will also take effect from February 8, 2021, do not apply to WhatsApp users in Europe. Niamh Sweeny, Director of Policy at WhatsApp, emphasizes this in a tweet.

The manager explicitly says that even with the new WhatsApp T&Cs, no new regulations for European – and thus also German – WhatsApp users will come into force. This means that data from European users will still not be shared with Facebook – not even for marketing purposes.

The panicked flight to WhatsApp alternatives like Telegram, Signal and Wire is therefore not necessary, at least for this reason. Nevertheless, it can make sense.