In the middle of last year WhatsApp changed their terms and privacy policy gave users the option to not have their WhatsApp information shared with Facebook. Soon though this option will be gone and it will be compulsory for users to share this data should they want to continue using WhatsApp.

In an update that started arriving on our devices yesterday a notification appeared stating that WhatsApp was updating their terms and privacy policy. The notification did give you the option to not allow the changes just yes but the devil is in the details. The fine print says that after February 8 you will have no option but to share your information with Facebook if you want to continue to use WhatsApp.

So what information is shared between WhatsApp and Facebook?

“The information we share with the other Facebook Companies includes your account registration information (such as your phone number), transaction data, service-related information, information on how you interact with others (including businesses) when using our Services, mobile device information, your IP address, and may include other information identified in the Privacy Policy section entitled ‘Information We Collect’ or obtained upon notice to you or based on your consent.”

So, basically everything. Of course WhatsApp are saying that it will help them to “improve their services and your experiences using them, such as making suggestions for you”.

So what does this mean for you? It is difficult to say at this stage considering how intrusive Facebook and its knowledge of you already is — just how much added information will they be able to glean that they don’t already know? One thing to note though, WhatsApp chats are end-to-end encrypted meaning that neither Facebook nor WhatsApp can access the content of your messages.

It is also interesting to see WhatsApp and Facebook taking this path given the pressure they have been under globally for their invasion of user privacy — the new policy will not apply to users in the EU.

It will certainly apply to users here in Australia and there is no half measure — if you want to keep using WhatsApp you will need to agree to share your account information with WhatsApp.

It is unclear what happens if you do not have a Facebook account but if you do you have until February 8 to decide whether to share or to stop using WhatsApp.