WhatsApp to begin sharing your data with Facebook

New features found in the latest WhatsApp beta. Screenshots: Javier Santos

New features found in the latest WhatsApp beta. Screenshots: Javier Santos

WhatsApp made millions of smartphone users happy with week when it announced it will be ditching its annual subscription fee, but its next move might not be so popular.

According to a hidden option found in the latest WhatsApp beta for Android, the service is planning to share user data with Facebook “to improve [your] Facebook experiences.”

The option to share data with Facebook was found by developer Javier Santos using some terminal commands, which he has published on his Google+ page for you to try yourself. “Share my WhatsApp account information with Facebook to improve my Facebook experiences,” it reads.

The new “feature” appears to be disabled by default, but it’s unclear exactly what kind of information will be shared between the two services. Presumably, it will include your WhatsApp contact list, which will make it easier to find friends on Facebook, and vice-versa.

If you’re a regular user of both Facebook and WhatsApp, which is now owned by Facebook, then this might not be all that worrying for you. But if you don’t use Facebook regularly, you might not like the idea of sharing your private WhatsApp data with it.

Fortunately, WhatsApp will give us the option to disable this feature.

Other changes found in this beta include a new end-to-end encryption option, which makes your messages even more secure “so WhatsApp and third parties can’t see it.” You can also choose to have special indicators displayed on each conversation to be sure they’re completely safe.

Finally, there’s a new “Documents” section where you’ll be able to find all of the files you receive from your WhatsApp contacts.

It’s unclear if any of these things will make it into a final version of the WhatsApp app; simply being tested in a beta isn’t a guarantee of anything. But it seems like they’re all feasible additions that are likely to popup at some point.