Here’s How to Prevent WhatsApp from Giving Facebook Your Phone Number

WhatsApp claims giving Facebook your phone number will lead to an improved experience, but you can sidestep the move for now.

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Aug 25 2016, 2:27pm

Image: Alvaro Ibanez/Flickr

A little more than two years ago, after Facebook bought his messaging startup for a cool $19 billion, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum stressed that "nothing would change" regarding his company's well-regarded privacy policy and its handling of user data. "There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product," Koum said.

Times change.

WhatsApp said on Thursday morning that it will now share with Facebook the phone numbers of its users in an effort "to improve your Facebook ads and products experiences." So far, this "improved experience" primarily appears to mean giving businesses the ability to contact you via WhatsApp: banks will be able to message you when they detect fraudulent activity on your account, and airlines will be able to alert you when your flight is delayed. WhatsApp noted that it expects to begin testing these features within the next few months.

And what happens if you, the average WhatsApp user, want nothing to do with these "improved experiences"? For now, at least, WhatsApp is giving you the ability to opt-out of this whole rigmarole.

There's two ways to go about this.

Image: WhatsApp

This first applies before you accept WhatsApp's newly updated terms and conditions. At the bottom of the terms and conditions screen is a small note that says "Read more about the key updates to our terms and privacy policy." Tap this, then uncheck the checkbox. Congrats, you've opted out!

Image: WhatsApp

The second method applies if you already accepted the new terms and conditions without having first opted-out. People in this position have 30 days after accepting the new terms to go to Settings - Account - Share my account info from inside the app. At the bottom of this screen is a checkbox that must be unchecked to opt-out of the scheme.

Of course, in the unlikely event that you don't have a Facebook account, the updated terms of service don't change a whole lot for you since WhatsApp is sharing your phone number with Facebook and not the individual companies themselves.