This is the first time the two services have shared data since Facebook bought Whatsapp just over two years ago.
The move will give Facebook to even more data about its users, at the very least using phone contacts as friend suggestions, but it has also sparked privacy concerns from users and industry experts.
While many users of Facebook’s mobile app, perhaps unknowingly, have already agreed to give the social media giant access to their phone number and address book (just look at the app permissions), some users may have chosen not to and opted out from handing over this data.
Following the announcement on Thursday, Facebook said it would not display any phone numbers on the profiles of users, but confirmed it would use them to help improve the algorithm it uses to suggest friends.
Facebook also the move will help them tackle spam accounts and get a better understanding on how they use their app.
But by allowing Whatsapp to share your phone number with Facebook, the company will now be able to link your phone with your social media profile. This means, for example, work colleagues or anyone else who has your phone number could potentially be able to link it to your Facebook account, which of course some people may want to keep separate.
Whatsapp has said that users will be prompted to agree to the new policy within the next 30 days in order to continue using the app.
Here’s how you can stop Whatsapp sharing your phone number with Facebook
If you think this is all a bit too much and are concerned about the privacy implications of allowing Whatsapp and Facebook to share your phone number or perhaps just dont want information such as your Facebook profile shared with not so close work colleagues or other acquaintances, a work around has come to light that which lets you opt out from sharing your phone number with Facebook.
According to tech site Motherboard, there are potentially two ways you can opt out.
The first method needs to be done BEFORE you agree to the new policy.
Instead of clicking “agree”, select the “read” link and make sure you untick the “Share my WhatsApp account information with Facebook” option.
If you have already agreed to the new policy, don’t worry as you still have 30 days to opt out and can do so by following these steps in the Whatsapp mobile app.
Settings > Account > untick “share my account info…” (shown above).