WhatsApp now requires users to share data with Facebook

It isn't exactly that much of a shock, considering it is Facebook we're talking about here, but it's still a disappointment at the very least, given the current context. At a time when people around the world have become more dependent on messaging services and a time when Facebook is being scrutinized for its privacy practices and monopoly, the social networking giant is making what many are pretty much considering to be an asinine move that will practically throw WhatsApp users out if they don't agree to let Facebook get a hold of their data.

As if giving regulators the smoking gun they need, WhatsApp has been notifying a change in their policy that makes a U-turn from the subsidiary's stance of making Facebook integration optional. Ever since it was acquired by the social media giant, it has been trying to paint an image of a more or less independent operation that still valued and cared for its users' privacy. That image has changed today though it largely falls in line with Facebook's grand plan anyway.

Users are being prompted to agree to a new privacy policy that will basically hand over some of their WhatsApp data to Facebook. While users can delay taking action, for now, the policy will take effect on February 8, 2021. On that date, the only option WhatsApp users will have is to either agree or stop using the service altogether.

Of course, the usual justification for such a change is the improved service and integration with Facebook's systems and infrastructure. That, however, pretty much benefits Facebook more than WhatsApp users. As if that will stop Facebook from doing what it wants anyway.

This is just the latest in Facebook's big changes to further integrate its properties into its social and advertising networks. It has, for example, unified Messenger and Instagram chats (thankfully still optional for now) and requires Facebook accounts to even use the Oculus Quest 2, with rather disastrous consequences. That said, Facebook isn't exactly in the clear yet as there have been bipartisan efforts to break it up again, at which point it would lose Instagram and WhatsApp anyway.