As controversy swirls over social media companies removing politicians, including President Donald Trump, from their platforms, a more long-standing issue with how these companies treat their users – and their privacy – is getting a new twist,

Facebook has issued an ultimatum to the hundreds of millions of users of WhatsApp, a company Facebook bought in 2014, that they must share their data with Facebook, or delete the app from their devices:

Come next month, users will no longer have [the ability to opt out of data sharing with Facebook]. Some of the data that WhatsApp collects includes:

User phone numbers

Other people’s phone numbers stored in address books

Profile names

Profile pictures and

Status message including when a user was last online

Diagnostic data collected from app logs

Under the new terms, Facebook reserves the right to share collected data with its family of companies.

“As part of the Facebook family of companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, this family of companies,” the new privacy policy states. “We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings.”

In some cases, such as when someone uses WhatsApp to interact with third-party businesses, Facebook may also share information with those outside entities.

Facebook is free to make such demands as it is a private company. But users are not obligated to stick with the service….and become just a product Facebook sells on the open market.

Image Credit: Pixabay: free for commercial use, no attribution required.