In 2014, when Facebook bought messaging giant WhatsApp for $16 billion, one of the founders of WhatsApp Jan Koum said that the deal will not change any aspect of the privacy of its users.
“We don’t know your birthday. We don’t know your home address,” Mr. Koum wrote in a blog post at the time. “None of that data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and we really have no plans to change that.”
Now two years on, his vow to not let the Facebook purchase affect privacy is being relaxed. WhatsApp announced in a blog post that it will begin to share limited data with its parent company. Basically it will disclose the phone numbers of its users and when that number matches with a Facebook profile, that user will then be subjected to advertising.
It will also allow businesses to send messages to its users through its platform. It is unclear at this point what that means and whether it will involve any Facebook profile information to be used as targeting information.
On the Facebook side, the analytics and numbers from WhatsApp will be used across all its properties to make better recommendations for friends, interests and pages.
With this information, Facebook will now be in possession of some of the most valuable interest and social data for its advertising service. Between the user base and data from Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, Facebook advertising will allow unprecedented targeting opportunities for advertisers.