WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messenger service, has updated its privacy policy in which users must agree to share their personal data with the social network or lose access.

Why it matters: Users can no longer choose not to share information with Facebook and continue using the app. For Facebook, however, it could signal WhatsApp's utility as a money-maker.

Details: Through an in-app message, users were informed that the service was making some big changes (“how we process your data”, “how we partner with Facebook to offer integrations”) along with the cut-off point for agreement of the 8th February.

It’s a significant shift: In 2016, Ars Technica points out, users were offered a unique opportunity to opt-out of having their data sent to Facebook. The new privacy policy changes that. 

Facebook reserves the right to share collected data – phone numbers, address book contents, profile information and status – with its other companies. These include the eponymous social network and its millennial growth engine, Instagram.

Why? It follows the requirement from Apple that iOS app developers lay out exactly what information they collect from users. There’s quite a lot of information it’s collecting, from purchases to financial info to location. 

Facebook needs Whatsapp to start pulling its weight in the family. Users rely heavily on messaging apps, including the nearly half of internet users who use WhatsApp each week. It’s no secret that Facebook has always struggled to make money out of its monumentally popular 2014 purchase.

In October, it explained on its blog that it would soon be allowing businesses to service their customers on WhatsApp (store and manage chats) using the Facebook infrastructure.

It is also part of a long-running story, beginning January two years ago, of unifying the back-end of the three main Facebook apps, as well as efforts to establish a stronger masterbrand. A more cynical reading is that a more integrated back-end will be tougher to unpick should the company’s antitrust tussles escalate.

Update: The Irish Times reports that for now the changes will not apply to users in the "European Region", which comprises the EU, EEA, and the now post-Brexit UK.

Sourced from WhatsApp, Ars Technica, WARC