Given that Fb acquired WhatsApp in 2014, customers have puzzled and apprehensive about how a lot information would movement concerning the two platforms. Lots of of them knowledgeable a rude awakening this week, as a new in-app notification raises recognition about a step WhatsApp basically took to share more with Fb back again in 2016.

On Monday, WhatsApp updated its phrases of use and privacy plan, generally to broaden on its tactics around how WhatsApp company customers can retail store their communications. A pop-up has been notifying consumers that as of February 8, the app’s privacy policy will adjust and they need to settle for the conditions to hold employing the application. As part of that privateness coverage refresh, WhatsApp also taken off a passage about opting out of sharing certain knowledge with Fb: “If you are an present person, you can decide on not to have your WhatsApp account information and facts shared with Fb to make improvements to your Fb advertisements and items encounters.” 

Some media shops and baffled WhatsApp end users understandably assumed that this meant WhatsApp experienced eventually crossed a line, demanding info-sharing with no substitute. But in truth the corporation suggests that the privacy plan deletion simply just reflects how WhatsApp has shared information with Fb since 2016 for the wide majority of its now 2 billion-plus consumers.

When WhatsApp released a main update to its privateness plan in August 2016, it began sharing consumer info and metadata with Facebook. At that time, the messaging service made available its billion existing users 30 times to decide out of at least some of the sharing. If you chose to decide out at the time, WhatsApp will continue to honor that preference. The attribute is prolonged long gone from the application configurations, but you can look at no matter whether you happen to be opted out through the “Request account info” operate in Configurations. 

Meanwhile, the billion-as well as end users WhatsApp has extra considering the fact that 2016, along with everyone who missed that choose-out window, have had their details shared with Fb all this time. WhatsApp emphasised to WIRED that this week’s privacy coverage variations do not truly effects WhatsApp’s existing procedures or behavior all-around sharing details with Facebook. 

“Our up to date Conditions and Privateness Coverage offer much more details on how we system your facts, and our determination to privacy,” WhatsApp wrote on Monday. “As aspect of the Facebook Firms, WhatsApp partners with Fb to present ordeals and integrations across Facebook’s family of apps and solutions.”

None of this has at any point impacted WhatsApp’s marquee attribute: close-to-finish encryption. Messages, photos, and other written content you deliver and obtain on WhatsApp can only be considered on your smartphone and the products of the people today you pick out to information with. WhatsApp and Fb itself can not entry your communications. In simple fact, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has continuously affirmed his motivation to expanding close-to-finish encryption choices as part of tying the company’s different conversation platforms with each other. But that will not imply there isn’t however a trove of other information WhatsApp can obtain and share about how you use the application. The enterprise suggests it collects user details “to work, provide, strengthen, comprehend, customize, support, and market our Services.”

In apply, this signifies that WhatsApp shares a good deal of intel with Fb, which include  account details like your cell phone number, logs of how extensive and how typically you use WhatsApp, info about how you interact with other users, unit identifiers, and other product information like IP address, running method, browser particulars, battery wellness information and facts, app model, cellular community, language and time zone. Transaction and payment data, cookies, and locale information are also all truthful video game to share with Fb dependent on the permissions you grant WhatsApp in the 1st area.

“WhatsApp is terrific for safeguarding the privacy of your concept content,” states Johns Hopkins College cryptographer Matthew Eco-friendly. “But it feels like the privacy of every thing else you do is up for grabs.”