WhatsApp users, get ready for messages from companies looking for your business.
That's the upshot from Thursday's update to WhatsApp's terms and conditions. The company outlined in a blog post the kind of interactions it wants to enable, including more targeted ads, being notified by your bank about a potentially fraudulent transaction or being warned about a delayed flight. In order to do this, WhatsApp will share your phone number with Facebook's system.
This is the most significant change to WhatsApp since Facebook purchased the instant message service in 2014, and marks a reversal of the original WhatsApp team's vow that the deal wouldn't affect their stance on digital privacy. It's also a move that might annoy some of its user base of more than 1 billion people.
The change in terms issued today also reflect the other tweaks made to the app, including the introduction of end-to-end encryption two years ago.
While messages will stay locked up tight, the phone number will be linked to Facebook. And that's a lot of phone numbers: This year, WhatsApp said its users are making 100 million calls a day.
The thinking behind this is that you will receive better friend suggestions and also supposedly help Facebook show you more relevant ads. It is the latest addition to the roster of data Facebook has on each of its users to make decisions on how to advertise to them, although it isn't entirely clear how knowing your phone number will lead to you receiving better ads.
WhatsApp frames this as a positive thing: "You might see an ad from a company you already work with, rather than one from someone you've never heard of." You might not think that you "work with" companies that advertise to you, but the phrasing suggests this could be how WhatsApp observes the relationship.
The company said it would help it fight third-party banners ads and spam.
The company is set to test the new features in the coming months. In the meantime, you can find out more about the new terms in this WhatsApp FAQ.