Users of the messenger application WhatsApp have shared their frustration and annoyance about the platform’s new terms of service, with some having already migrated to other platforms.

Last week, the Facebook-owned messenger app introduced new terms, requesting users to agree and allow Facebook and its subsidiaries to collect user data from their devices.

The move has raised many questions about the invasion of user privacy. The new privacy policy is in a bid to have users’ personal data readily available for businesses to target them more specifically.

The messaging service will change the processing of data. It will also change how businesses can use Facebook hosted services to store and manage users’ WhatsApp chats. This means, there will be more integration of Facebook’s other products with WhatsApp.

According to WhatsApp’s privacy policy, users’ phone numbers, IP addresses, and mobile device information will be shared with Facebook.

Social media analyst Preetesh Sewraj says this is nothing new, as WhatsApp has been sharing this data with Facebook since 2017.

“What they do want to have access to is that indirect information. Who are you chatting to, for how long? Where are you delivering the messages to? Are you messaging from home, work? These are the intricacies that are most likely to be shared with Facebook and WhatsApp. There will be no sharing of chats and calls. Facebook will be helping businesses better target you.”

Sewraj advises users to apply their minds as to the amount of data they are willing to share with WhatsApp. He says the new version of the application will also allow users to make purchases directly from WhatsApp.

“Facebook has been accessing WhatsApp data since 2017. If you are using services across social media, WhatsApp included the companies that own apps are spending a lot of money developing them. They have to gain that revenue from somewhere. If you have used Facebook services that have required you to input your credit card details, you will see that Facebook already has access to this. What you may have is the integration that now allows you to purchase directly from WhatsApp. My advice is to truly apply your mind to what data you are sharing and the benefit you get. If you find that the product adds value and it’s worth staying in it, then stick with it. If you have alternatives like Signal and Telegram that a lot of people are using, (use them).”

WhatsApp new privacy policy under the spotlight:

Increase in demand for other messaging apps 

Other messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram are seeing a sudden increase in demand as some WhatsApp users have already migrated – fearing an invasion of privacy.

Here’s what some WhatsApp users had to say about the new privacy policy:

They know what we post, why we post it and influence our next post. When WhatsApp is coming up with new policies that do not look new to me. It doesn’t phase me and make me delete WhatsApp and move to Telegram. Invasion of privacy is something that we have allowed by virtue of being on social media,” says one user.

“I am not comfortable with the new policy. I will be looking into other apps that offer a similar service,” says another.

Meanwhile, some WhatsApp users have already agreed to the new privacy policy without actually reading what the new terms and conditions are.

Yugan Naicker says, now that he realizes what this means for his personal data, he is contemplating deleting the application.

“I just thought it was one of the updates that they usually send out. I didn’t read it, I just agreed to it. Now that I found out what I agreed to, I’m not very happy but it was my fault. I am actually considering deleting the app. If telemarketers can gain access to my information, it’s leaving us open to scam artists out there who can gain information.”

According to data analytics firm Sensor Tower, more than 100 000 users installed Signal across the app stores of Apple and Google in the last two days, while Telegram picked up nearly 2.2 million downloads.

WhatsApp users have until 8 February to accept the new terms and conditions.

A pop-up up will appear on your smartphone to inform you about the changes. If you don’t accept the changes, your account will be terminated, however, your data will remain.