Facebook declined to comment.
The move is a 180-degree reversal from Facebook’s stance when it bought WhatsApp for $19 billion, and assured the messaging app’s users that their data would remain private and separate from the larger company. But it’s a U-turn that some could have seen coming after 2016, when WhatsApp’s policy shifted to sharing data with Facebook by default. At that time, users could still opt out by manually editing their settings within 30 days.
But now that choice is gone. And it has vanished at a peculiar time, as congressional antitrust groups are intensifying investigations into whether Facebook and other tech giants have been using their massive reach to build monopolies and quash competitors. Last month, the U.S. government and dozens of states sued Facebook seeking to compel it to sell off WhatsApp and Instagram.
According to Facebook, it uses shared data for “improving their services,” such as “making suggestions for you (for example, of friends or group connections, or of interesting content), personalizing features and content, helping you complete purchases and transactions, and showing relevant offers and ads across the Facebook Company Products.”