Best Security Search
Security News

The EU Commission Accuses Facebook of Lying In The WhatsApp Merger

The EU and Facebook clash once again. The social media giant is getting charged with lying about the data collection of WhatsApp.

The Facebook/EU conflict

Facebook bought out WhatsApp in 2014. The merger raised many eyebrows, as WhastsApp was used as a more private alternative of Facebook’s Messenger, but the company promised to not change the privacy policy of their new acquisition. That promise was subsequently (and expectedly) broken in 2016 when WhatsApp started sharing phone data with Facebook.

This attracted the attention of many privacy watchdogs within the European Union:

Now the plot gets even thicker, as the European Commission alleges that Facebook released misleading information when acquiring WhatsApp. If the allegations prove correct, the company ought to lose 1% of its turnover in sanctions. Facebook should respond until 31 January 2017 to respond to the allegations. More here.

Facebook’s Liberal Interpretation of the Rights of Privacy

Facebook’s buying of WhatsApp is like when a glue factory buys an old horse – there’s only one plausible reason for it. Facebook runs on Web ads, and Web ads run on relevant, sometimes confidential information.

The problem is that the users of Facebook agree to this. When you make an account on their network, you agree to Facebook’s conditions of data collection. It’s not theft if you’re giving something away in exchange for a service. Social networking connects people and lets them share information, be it good, bad, or stupid.

Since everyone is on Facebook, it makes sense for new users to go where their friends are. Facebook’s management is very good at spreading and expanding their site, thus gathering more information from their users. This wouldn’t be possible without violating the privacy rights of people.

The truth is that Facebook wouldn’t have the resources to build their useful network without the ad revenue that creates the current privacy nightmare. If people decided that enough was enough and boycotted Facebook until they stop their shady data collection, there are a few options. One is for users to pay money out of their pockets, rather than out of their secrets. This seems unlikely. The human psyche would rather ignore a problem as long as they remain under the surface. The other solution is for people to stop using Facebook altogether, which also seems unlikely. As we said, pretty much everyone is on Facebook, and the peer pressure is immense. Nobody wants to miss what their friends are up to, so they’ll put up with the intrusive data collection.

Alex Dimchev

Alex Dimchev is a beat writer for Best Security Search. When he's not busy researching cyber-security matters, he enjoys sports and writing about himself in third person.