How to Find Out What WhatsApp Really Knows About You

WhatsApp collects a significant amount of data about you. Here’s how to find out what it knows.

WhatsApp receives and shares information with “other meta-companies” according to its privacy policy. This can be troubling to anyone who’s been around long enough to hear stories of how meta-companies have used (or misused) data over the years.

But is there really cause for concern? What does WhatsApp know about you that it could potentially share with its sister companies?

What does WhatsApp know about you?

If you still have WhatsApp on your device, it means you have accepted the privacy policy. So, what data is collected according to WhatsApp’s privacy policy?

Here is a list of the different categories of information the company collects:

  • Your account details: When you create a WhatsApp account, you need to provide some personal information. This includes your name and phone number. WhatsApp can also ask you for your profile picture, which you can choose to provide or not.
  • Your messages: WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption by default and doesn’t typically store users’ messages on its servers. However, undelivered messages are stored for up to 30 days until the recipient comes online. WhatsApp also temporarily stores redirected media in encrypted form “to support more efficient delivery of additional redirects.”
  • Your contact information: Uploading your contacts to WhatsApp is optional. When you upload your contacts from your phone, WhatsApp has access to the contact information of people in your address book – including contacts who aren’t on WhatsApp.
  • Status information: WhatsApp collects your status information. In what form is not said.
  • Location: If you use one of WhatsApp’s location-based features, your location information will be collected. For example, if you share your live location with a contact, they can see it on a map in real time.
  • IP address and device information: When you use WhatsApp, your IP address and device information is automatically collected. This includes information such as your device model, operating system and other unique identifiers.
  • Cookies: WhatsApp uses cookies to understand user preferences and improve its web-based services, similar to how other apps and websites use cookies.
  • Transaction and payment data: When you use WhatsApp to make a transaction or send money, the app collects information about the transaction. This includes details such as the payment method, shipping details and the payment amount.
  • Usage and log information: WhatsApp automatically collects information about how you use the app. This includes your interactions with contacts, timestamps and what features you use.

WhatsApp shares some of the information it collects with other meta-companies. If you use a backup service provider like iCloud or Google Drive, WhatsApp also shares information with those companies.

Here’s how the app shares data with other companies:

  • With other meta companies: WhatsApp receives and shares information with other meta-companies “to help, function, provide, improve, understand, customize, support and market [it] Services and their offerings, including Meta Company’s products.” If you’ve ever posted a WhatsApp status and seen the prompt “Share to Facebook story,” you’ve seen metadata syncing in action.
  • Backup Service Providers: WhatsApp also uses backup service providers like iCloud and Google Drive to store your WhatsApp backups. If you have iCloud or Google Drive backups enabled on WhatsApp, the app shares information with those companies. This includes your account information, messages and contact information.

Here’s how to get a copy of your WhatsApp data

Now that you know what kind of data WhatsApp collects, you’re probably wondering how you can get a copy of that information for yourself.

The good news is that WhatsApp makes it relatively easy for users to access and download a copy of their data. The bad news is that the report isn’t as detailed as you might like given the amount of data collected.

To get a copy of your WhatsApp data, follow these steps:

  1. Open WhatsApp and go to settings.
  2. Beat Account.
  3. Choose Request Account Information.

It takes about three days for WhatsApp to compile your report and make it available for download. You will get a notification in the app when it’s done.

When you export your report, you will receive a ZIP file that contains some HTML files. These files contain your account information, contacts, groups, and more.

Get a copy of your WhatsApp data

With WhatsApp storing and potentially sharing your data with its sister companies, it makes sense that you’d want to know exactly what the app knows about you.

Follow the steps above to request a copy of your WhatsApp data. Once you have the report, take some time to go through it and see what information you’ve shared with WhatsApp – and by extension, meta-companies.

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