Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp disputed

Posted on March 11, 2014

 

Social networking site Facebook’s purchase of messaging software WhatsApp has been challenged by privacy groups following the announcement of the deal, estimated to be worth around £11 billion.

Rivals are calling for US regulators to delay the arrangement until the networking site divulges information regarding its intentions for the personal details of users of the messaging service.

It is believed that the two groups challenging the acquisition are the Electronic Privacy Information Centre and the Centre for Digital Democracy, which have asked regulators to examine:

“[…] Facebook’s ability to access WhatsApp’s store of user mobile numbers and metadata.”

The firm, owned by entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg, has stated that it plans to operate as individual businesses and pledges to observe all current privacy arrangements, including the collection of personal data for advertising purposes.

Facebook is known to collect user information for the purpose of advertising and internet marketing, and the groups disputing the move filed a complaint with the US Federal Trades Commission (FTC) which read:

“WhatsApp built a user-base based on its commitment not to collect user data for advertising revenue.”

It continues to highlight that:

“The proposed acquisition will therefore violate WhatsApp users’ understanding of their exposure to online advertising and constitutes an unfair and deceptive trade practice.”

The social media giant, which has 1.2 billion people registered, generates revenue through adverts based on the demographics of users, and is thought to have changed privacy policies of firms it have purchased in the past, with the most high profile being photo service Instagram in 2012.

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