The new conditions of use of the messaging application worry its 2 billion users. Can we continue to exchange messages in peace with friends? The explanations.

The WhatsApp Terms of Service and Privacy Policy will be updated ." Maybe you saw this message appear when you opened your WhatsApp application. For now, you can still make it disappear without accepting these new conditions by touching the small cross at the top right. But from May 15, 2021 (date of February 8 initially scheduled, but in the face of general concern from users, Whatsapp has postponed the deadline by three months), you will have to accept under penalty of not being able to use the famous messaging system.. A classic update procedure for an application but which this time disturbs because it affects more than usual the processing of user data. Remember that WhatsApp has belonged to Facebook since 2014, as well as Instagram, which was acquired in 2012.

Why is it changing?

The Facebook group wants to make money with WhatsApp which works for free and without ads. So he wants this messaging to help him collect user data to improve ad targeting in Facebook and Instagram. But rest assured, no advertising will be displayed on WhatsApp and the confidentiality of your exchanges is not a concern. The group recalls that no message, video or photo can be used by Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp, in Europe or elsewhere.

By imposing these new conditions of use, WhatsApp will therefore be able to share certain user data with Facebook such as name, phone numbers, profile information, your contacts, call times, number of messages, hours of service. 'use and location. But fortunately, this global sharing of information is much more limited in France thanks to the legal constraints imposed by the GDPR   (general data protection regulation) and the European directives on privacy.

• What will really change in France (and in Europe)

In France, the update will also be done, but it will affect the classic operating data of the application and the possible use in the future of payment data via WhatsApp. Like many applications installed on your smartphone, the messaging application already uses your phone number and certain information relating to your device (Identifiers, operating system, country, etc.), but " There will be no case of transfer to Facebook or Instagram in Europe, " assures a spokesperson for the group.

This update will also concern the way in which brands will be able to contact their customers on WhatsApp. Thus, if you interact with a brand on Facebook, they may ask you to continue your exchanges on WhatsApp to, for example, track a delivery or send you invoices.

 So what do I do with my WhatsApp account?

The choice is quite simple: you can continue to use WhatsApp since France is not affected by the extensive commercial use of user data. This application, adopted by many since confinement to maintain contact with loved ones, remains the simplest to use because it is the most widespread. Your discussion groups with friends and relatives are probably already created.

But if you want to try another system, there are similar messengers like Viber (Japanese Rakuten Group), Signal (American), Telegram Messenger (Russian), or WeChat (Chinese). The signal is the only application that guarantees the collection of very little information (phone number and date installed for operation) and offers real security. In fact, don't forget that your data can also be stolen if your messaging system is not secure enough and protected by the publisher! Good news, Signal also allows you to import your groups from WhatsApp by following tutorials like this one

In conclusion, if your loved ones are ready to change too, Signal is a great app that respects your privacy perfectly. If the change is too complex, WhatsApp remains a good tool that European privacy laws prevent from tracking you too much.

• In summary

  • By May 15, 2021, you will have to accept the new conditions to continue using WhatsApp
  • Your account will not be deleted after this date if you do not agree to the new conditions
  • No ads will be displayed on WhatsApp
  • No message, video or photo can be used by Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp, in Europe or elsewhere
  • In the event of a new change, the application will be obliged to ask for your consent again.

WhatsApp defends itself by reminding that:

  • We can't see your private messages or listen to your calls, and neither can Facebook
  • We do not keep the history of the recipients of messages or calls
  • We can't see your shared location and neither can Facebook
  • We do not share your contacts with Facebook
  • Groups remain private
  • You can choose to have your messages disappear
  • You can download your data