Concerned about their privacy, thousands of users are currently looking for an alternative for the messaging application. While two applications called Signal and Telegram have already benefitted from the scenario, WhatsApp has now come up with answers to users’ various questions.
In the FAQ section of their official website, WhatsApp says that “We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way.” Furthermore, WhatsApp also says that the upcoming update includes messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional.
Upcoming Update and Business Messaging!
Adding to it, WhatsApp says that, “Whether you communicate with a business by phone, email, or WhatsApp, it can see what you’re saying and may use that information for its marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook.”
As said by WhatsApp, the integrity of personal messaging remains untouched. No data would be shared with Facebook or any third-party. We will discuss it further in the article.
How to Differentiate Between A Person And A Business Profile on WhatsApp
Now, most of us are familiar with the concept of business accounts. It is essentially an account on a social media platform that lets you access all the insights and user-interaction details. For instance, how many users visited your account in a day. You might have even used or seen a business profile on the very popular Instagram.
When it comes to WhatsApp, a business profile would include the “Official Business Account” or “Business Account” label, depending on whether WhatsApp has verified the Business or not.
It is how WhatsApp differentiates between Business Account!
You might find the label right below the name on a profile, along with the category the business is registered as.
From a Business’ perspective
There are two types of business accounts on WhatsApp. One is for small businesses, while the other is for larger companies or companies/enterprises.
For a small business, the WhatsApp Business App is available as a separate application on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Apart from the standard messaging features, the business account provides some additional automated and intuitive features like ‘quick replies,’ ‘WhatsApp payments‘, or creating a ‘Catalog.’
For larger companies, the WhatsApp Business API helps to interact with a global audience. Even some small companies can gain access to this tool for a better customer experience.
The latest additions to WhatsApp’s policy is Business apprehension details. “Some businesses will be able to choose WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook, to securely store messages and respond to customers. You can always contact that business to learn more about its privacy practices.”
From what they are saying, it appears as if WhatsApp will provide the Business accounts with some option – agreeing to which gives them some additional analytical features or compel the businesses to abide by it.
Here is an Example Of Official Business Profiles on WhatsApp
Notice the ‘green tick’ beside the profile name. Also, WhatsApp embedded chat-notification dated 1st January 2021 signifies WhatsApp’s plan to implement these changes in the new year.
New Commerce Feature – Shops
With the Facebook-branded commerce feature – ‘Shops,’ some businesses would be able to display and sell their goods right within WhatsApp. It helps the seller and the buyer, saving the latter from the hassle of cluelessly searching for the product they want to buy. Suppose someone uses this feature (it might not be available yet). In that case, it is only then when their shopping activity would be used to personalize the ‘Shops’ experience. If and when this happens, you would receive a notification about the same.
Use of Third-Party Services
“WhatsApp considers chats with businesses that use the WhatsApp Business app or manage and store customer messages themselves to be end-to-end encrypted. Once the message is received, it will be subject to the business’s own privacy practices. The business may designate a number of employees, or even other vendors, to process and respond to the message.”
The above statement implies that while WhatsApp would directly not share data with any other company, including Facebook. However, the businesses taking the help of the tools and hosting services provided by Facebook or any third-party provider might share the information.
“We work with third-party service providers and other Facebook Companies to help us operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services.” These companies are a partner of Facebook, and your data from a business account might be shared with them.
WhatsApp Inc. and WhatsApp Ireland Limited
How To Differentiate Between a Self-Hosting and Third-Party Hosting?
The following image shows you the difference between when a business is hosting themselves and using a third-party hosting service to handle their business.
Notice the message WhatsApp shows in a light blue box
Privacy and Security of Our Personal Messages
In a blog post on 12nth January, WhatsApp has addressed the current chaos. While this was a significant concern, or rather a rumor that we might have heard, WhatsApp clarifies that whatever texts we sent or the calls we make are entirely private. Neither Facebook nor WhatsApp can listen to or read anything from our personal chats backed by end-to-end encryption. Read more about end-to-end encryption here!
“We can’t see your private messages or hear your calls, and neither can Facebook.”
“We don’t keep logs of who everyone is messaging or calling.”
“We can’t see your shared location, and neither can Facebook.”
“We don’t share your contacts with Facebook.”
“Groups remain private.”
The Conclusion – Be careful While Talking To A Business Account
Suppose we keep aside the several leaks that have happened in the past years. In that case, WhatsApp vouches for the security of our messages. Anyone messaging through WhatsApp uses an industry-leading Signal Protocol that encrypts our messages as soon as the sender sends them and the receiver gets them. If and when the message remains undelivered, it stays with WhatsApp in an encrypted form.
However, the situation is slightly different when you message a business account. Here are these main points:
- The information you send and receive, even on a business chat, is end-to-end encrypted.
- A large scale business can choose a third-party vendor to handle the WhatsApp Business API for them. While the messages remain encrypted, the business gives access to these messages/information to a third-party service provider. It is this third-party vendor that can be Facebook itself. In that case, Facebook would process the data on ‘behalf of the business’ and “AT THE INSTRUCTION OF THE BUSINESS.”
- Only when Facebook is acting as a host, it can use the information for its marketing purposes, which may or may not include advertising on Facebook.
- The communications that would be served by Facebook or by any third-party service provider would be labeled as is depicted in the pictures above.
- You might see ads on Facebook that might ask you to ‘send a message’ to a business account on WhatsApp. How you interact with this advertisement is also monitored by Facebook.
Again, this is what the company and the organization say on their platform. I just wanted to present things in front of you clearly and objectively. I am in no manner promoting WhatsApp or its services.