This letter, originally sent to Mark Zuckerberg on 14 May 2021, was sent as part of the #SaveWhatsApp global campaign. In this letter, 28 organisations – EngageMedia included – demand that the company stop intimidating WhatsApp users to accept extended data collection, originally set to take effect on May 15.
Learn more about the campaign and EngageMedia’s involvement as an Asia-Pacific partner at EngageMedia.org/SaveWhatsApp.
Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,
Facebook’s prospective business model relies on extended data integration between WhatsApp and Facebook to benefit its own bottom line at the expense of user privacy. Facebook appears dedicated to continuing exploiting WhatsApp data to advance its marketing and commercial interests. Facebook has shown time and again that it simply cannot be trusted to safeguard our privacy or data.
Facebook announced its intention to roll out this latest privacy update for WhatsApp in January 2021, with changes initially meant to come into effect on February 8. However, the public outcry has repeatedly helped push back this date. Shortly after the original announcement, the date was pushed back to May 15. Now, Facebook has opted for a familiar course of action: provide reassurance without modification, yet with the intention of forcing through the change anyway.
On May 7, WhatsApp announced an opaque timeframe of “a few weeks” for those users who are attempting to safeguard their data and refuse the new policy change. These users will eventually see the app lose its functionality. These users are presented with recurring pop-up notifications reminding them to accept these terms or give up the service and, with it, an invaluable connection to friends and loved ones. According to WhatsApp, the majority of users who have already accepted will still be subject to the updated terms on May 15.
Facebook insists it is listening to users concerns, but it has so far taken no meaningful action to reverse course on ever-increasing data collection. Despite persistent, international calls to respect people’s privacy, the revised plan still prioritises Facebook’s exploitative business practices over basic privacy rights.