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What Data Does WhatsApp Collect?
You should be the owner of your data and the one in charge of your privacy. That’s why it’s more important than ever to be aware of the kinds of data WhatsApp is collecting about you and what it’s doing with it.
Facebook actually owns WhatsApp, along with Instagram and Oculus VR (virtual reality glasses). In case you didn’t already know, all of the information you share on WhatsApp is information you’re sharing with Facebook. And most people know Facebook’s track record for keeping information private.
Without further delay, we’ll dive into what data WhatsApp collects and whether you can delete it. Also, we’ll share some tips for how to keep your information safe.
What information does WhatsApp collect?
If you send a message to one of your contacts on WhatsApp, all the related information is collected: the time you sent the message, the keys you used to type (so, the content itself), and the person you sent it to.1 Yep, everything is recorded.
WhatsApp introduced end-to-end encryption software in the app to promote privacy and keep third parties from stealing your information.1 Even though this encryption makes WhatsApp safer overall, it’s important to understand how WhatsApp invades your privacy.
While it’s less likely that a third party hacker will steal your data, WhatsApp itself is still keeping track of your info. Think of it like this: the internet is like a tube of toothpaste. You easily use as much toothpaste as you want (sharing videos, messages, and photos). But once it’s out there, it’s extremely difficult to put back.
If you’re using WhatsApp, Facebook, Google, or any other apps or websites, always be careful how much personal information you share. It’s so important for your personal online safety to be aware of what you’re sharing, where you’re communicating, and how much info you’re giving to large tech companies.
Why does WhatsApp collect my information?
WhatsApp collects your data for the same reason Facebook collects your data (literally). The app is keeping track of your information to improve its algorithms and build a profile about you. It’s pretty scary when you realize just how much information these tech giants have.
How do I delete my data from WhatsApp?
Unfortunately, there’s no no way to delete your data on WhatsApp. However, one of the best ways to keep your data more private on WhatsApp is to turn off cloud backups.2
WhatsApp encourages users to use the automatic backup so that you don’t lose data. But in reality, these backups also allow WhatsApp and Google to keep your data. Simply go to Settings, Storage, and Backups to turn off this feature.
If you want to limit the amount of data WhatsApp collects, the best way you can do this is by limiting the amount of data you share in the first place. While this might sound inconvenient, it actually works. Even though WhatsApp wants you to share certain info when you set up an account, you decide how much of your personal information you provide.
Are there other ways to keep my information private on WhatsApp?
Thankfully, there are other ways to keep your information more private. One great option is to use a VPN (virtual private network). Instead of sharing your actual IP address with every website, app, and program you use online, a VPN encrypts your information. This helps you stay more anonymous, and it makes it harder for hackers to steal your data.
If you’re interested in downloading a VPN and using it to protect your privacy, here’s a list of the top three VPNs. These providers are known for credibility, high number of servers, and high level encryption software.
- Javier Corvillo, “WhatsApp Is a Privacy Nightmare,” November 29, 2019. Accessed November 20, 2020.
- Matt Burgess, Wired, “How to Boost WhatsApp’s Privacy and Better Protect Your Data,” August 30, 2020. Accessed November 20, 2020.