Facebook’s WhatsApp Deal Sparks Privacy Concerns

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Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) $19 billion acquisition of mobile messaging app WhatsApp is making some privacy advocacy groups nervous. The deal could be postponed.

WhatsApp is a messaging service that is available for a variety of smartphones including Apple, Android, Nokia and Windows phones. Unlike many apps that are free downloads, WhatsApp has no advertising. In fact, the app is deliberately ad-free. The company has an entire page dedicated to explaining why they do not sell ads. The reason is so that its team does do not collect user data.

“At every company that sells ads, a significant portion of their engineering team spends their day tuning data mining, writing better code to collect all your personal data, upgrading the servers that hold all the data and making sure it’s all being logged and collated and sliced and packaged and shipped out…”

WhatsApp would rather charge users than allow advertising. That has been the company’s policy since it was founded more than five years ago. The messaging service is a free download with free service for the first year. It is a top app for both the Apple App Store and Google Play on the free apps charts. After that year, users who want to continue using the app can pay a $1 subscription fee.

Facebook, the company looking to buy WhatsApp, sells ads. Much of its revenue comes from selling advertising. And it uses your data to make those sales. Look at an item on Amazon or another site and it may show up as an advertisement on the right side of your news feed later. Facebook has stated that the company will allow WhatsApp to operate independently and not mine the data of its 450 million users.