Making It Easier to Manage Business Conversations on WhatsApp

By Nate Cardozo, Privacy Policy Manager

In 2018 we launched tools to enable people to easily communicate with businesses on WhatsApp for free. And now, more than 175 million WhatsApp messages are sent every day to business accounts around the world. 

Today, we’re announcing a new way for businesses to store and manage their WhatsApp chats with customers using Facebook’s secure hosting infrastructure which will roll out early next year. This will make it easier to onboard to WhatsApp Business API, allow them to respond to WhatsApp messages faster, keep their inventory up to date and sell products through chats. We’re committed to providing people with a secure, transparent and privacy-protective way to communicate with businesses. 

What are the privacy implications associated with this forthcoming update?

Every message sent on WhatsApp — be it text, call, voice note, or video — uses the same industry leading Signal protocol that protects messages from before they’re sent until they’re delivered to the intended recipient. All of this happens automatically: there’s no need to turn on any special settings to secure your messages. But messaging a business is different than messaging a loved one and we’ll be making that even clearer. Here’s how:

  • Chats with businesses that use WhatsApp Messenger, WhatsApp Business app or that self-host the WhatsApp Business API to manage and store customer messages themselves are end-to-end encrypted.
  • If a business chooses to use a third party vendor to operate the WhatsApp Business API on their behalf, we do not consider that to be end-to-end encrypted since the business you are messaging has chosen to give a third-party vendor access to those messages. This will also be the case if that third-party vendor is Facebook. 
  • It’s important to understand that there is no off switch for encryption and users will continue to verify their security keys for end-to-end encrypted chats.  

What data will be used and how?

When Facebook acts as a hosting provider to a business, it will use the messages it processes on behalf of and at the instruction of the business. This is an industry standard practice among many companies that offer hosting solutions. While Facebook will not automatically use messages to inform the ads that a user sees, as is always the case, businesses will be able to use chats they receive for their own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook. 

How are these changes being communicated to people today and moving forward?

Our goal is to be transparent about the end-to-end encrypted status of a conversation within the chat so that people are aware of the privacy of their conversation and what happens to their messages. If a person messages a business that has chosen to use Facebook’s hosting services, we will also make that clear within the chat.

screenshots of WhatsApp conversations with businesses showing Facebook Hosting Services

By making these updates over the coming months, we look forward to giving more businesses the ability to get onto our service faster, so we can provide a more valuable experience on WhatsApp for everyone. 

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