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Hey America, Facebook owns WhatsApp

Hey America, Facebook owns WhatsApp
[Photo: Anton/Pexels]

You think this would be common knowledge, but apparently not. Privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo was bewildered by people who were growing leery of Facebook and its data and privacy policies and breeches and thus jumped ship from apps like Facebook Messenger to WhatsApp. Didn’t people know Facebook also owns the latter?

Apparently not, according to a study carried out by DuckDuckGo. The study found that over half of Americans (50.42%) had no idea Facebook owns WhatsApp. And even more Americans (56.28%) had no idea Google owns Waze. As DuckDuckGo wrote in a blog post about its findings:

This means that a majority of Americans who are using WhatsApp and/or Waze are doing so without realizing that all of their information, whether it be routes, travel time, messages, photos, or location data, is privy to Facebook (for WhatsApp) and Google (for Waze).

But just why is this a big deal? Because this lack of knowledge of which tech giants own which apps mean Americans who want to be more privacy-focused about their data can’t necessarily make informed choices about what services to use. As DuckDuckGo points out:

The lack of awareness over Facebook and Google’s reach is even more alarming as more and more Americans are looking to take control of their privacy online, but don’t have the information to make conscientious choices. It misleads people into believing they can avoid the treacherous waters of Google and Facebook privacy practices by standing in a smaller stream like Waze or WhatsApp, without knowing each directly flows into the very same oceans they attempted to escape.

The study was conducted in August 2018 using a sample of 1,297 random U.S. adults who were demographically similar to the general population.

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