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The biggest news to come out of social over the weekend has been the controversial reveal that WhatsApp will now be sharing its data on consumers with Facebook.

Many have been waiting since Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014 (for $22 billion!) to find out what the partnership could mean for both brands and consumers. Although WhatsApp has been upping their USP of increased privacy and encrypted messages, the handover of data to Facebook has started ringing alarm bells for consumers. Although the messaging service insists that the content of users’ message will stay private, Facebook will be using phonebook data from WhatsApp to help users find friends they chat with on WhatsApp but who they may not have already ‘friended’ on Facebook.

The old story of privacy issues comes into play here, but what do these changes mean for marketers? Well, Facebook will now be able to access user’s phone numbers and WhatsApp user analytics log with the user’s mobile operating system, screen resolution size, device identifiers and mobile country code. Based on this, Facebook should now be able to target consumers with far more relevant ads, meaning more specific targeting for brands.

The change also indicates that WhatsApp is planning to integrate business-to-consumer communications into the app, helping to remonetize the service after the failure of charging consumers a subscription fee earlier this year.

Pretty good news for brands, but what about consumers?

It is possible to opt-out of the data share as WhatsApp’s original T&C’s state that it would not use the user’s phone number for commercial or marketing purposes without their consent. When prompted to agree to WhatsApp’s new terms, simply click ‘read’ and you will see a tick box about the new sharing of data. Should you want to opt-out, simply untick the box, and click ‘agree’.  If you’ve already clicked through, don’t panic! Simply go into your WhatsApp settings and untick it from there. Watch out though, as you’ll only have 30 days to make the decision.

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