The latest change – announced on the official company blog – marks a dramatic change for the hugely-successful messaging service.
“Whether it’s hearing from your bank about a potentially fraudulent transaction, or getting notified by an airline about a delayed flight, many of us get this information elsewhere, including in text messages and phone calls.
“And by connecting your phone number with Facebook’s systems, Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them.”
Under the new changes, Facebook is able to see the phone number that people have associated with their WhatsApp account.
That allows the US social network to link and track profiles between the two services, helping Facebook gather more data for its advertisements.
WhatsApp claims the changes will make the experience better for its users.
However, WhatsApp is keen to reiterate that users’ encrypted messages will remain private and the California-based firm won’t post, sell, share, or give your phone number to advertisers.
“By coordinating more with Facebook, we’ll be able to do things like track basic metrics about how often people use our services and better fight spam on WhatsApp,” the company explained on its blog.
Fortunately there is a way to stop it.
If you are an existing user as of August 25, 2016, the app lets you choose whether Facebook can siphon your WhatsApp account information to improve your ads and products experiences across the Facebook family of apps and services.
If you choose to opt out, Facebook will no longer be able to suggest friends or improve the ads you see based on your WhatsApp number.
Your phone number won’t be added to your Facebook profile, and your WhatsApp messages will not be shared onto Facebook for others to see.
This lets you trawl through the minutiae of the changes, however, it also loads a toggle that lets users remove their phone number.
In a bid to fend off criticism WhatsApp has tried to stop fears about its new terms by stating: “Our belief in the value of private communications is unshakeable, and we remain committed to giving you the fastest, simplest, and most reliable experience on WhatsApp.
“As always, we look forward to your feedback and thank you for using WhatsApp.”