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 unsettling for 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 working on your device, it means you’ve accepted its privacy policy. So, what data does WhatsApp’s privacy policy says it collects?

Here’s a list of the different categories of information the company collects:

  • Your account information: When you create a WhatsApp account, you’re required to provide some personal information. This includes your name and phone number. WhatsApp may also ask for your profile picture, which you can choose to provide or not.
  • Your messages: WhatsApp offers default end-to-end encryption and typically doesn’t store users’ messages on its servers. However, it stores undelivered messages for up to 30 days, pending when the recipient hops online. WhatsApp also temporarily stores forwarded media in encrypted form “to aid in more efficient delivery of additional forwards”.
  • Your contact information: Uploading your contacts on WhatsApp is optional. If you do upload your contacts from your phone, WhatsApp will have 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, it does not say.
  • Location: When you use any of WhatsApp’s location-based features, it will collect your location information. For example, if you share your live location with a contact, they’ll be able to see it on a map in real-time.
  • IP address and device information: When you use WhatsApp, it automatically collects your IP address and device information. This includes information like your device model, operating system, and other unique identifiers.
  • Cookies: WhatsApp uses cookies to understand user preferences and to enhance its web-based services, similar to how other apps and websites use cookies.
  • Transaction and payment data: If you use WhatsApp to make a transaction or send money, the app will collect information about the transaction. This includes details like the payment method, shipping details, and payment amount.
  • Usage and log information: WhatsApp automatically collects information about how you use the app. This includes your interactions with contacts, time stamps, and which features you use.

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

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

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

How to Obtain a Copy of Your WhatsApp Data

Now that you know what sort of data WhatsApp collects, you’re probably wondering how you can get a copy of this 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 want it to be, considering the amount of data it collects.

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

  1. Open WhatsApp and go to Settings.
  2. Tap Account.
  3. Select Request account Info.

It takes roughly three days for WhatsApp to compile your report and make it available for download. You’ll receive a notification within the app when it’s ready.

When you export your report, you’ll get a ZIP file that contains some HTML files. These files include your account information, contacts, groups, and more.

Get a Copy of Your WhatsApp Data

If WhatsApp stores and could potentially share your data with its sister companies, it makes sense that you’d want to know what exactly the app knows about you.

Follow the steps we’ve outlined 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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