You must by now have received a WhatsApp notification asking you to agree to some new privacy policy. And you have no option but to agree, or lose the account by February 8, 2021.

Users have until February 8, 2021 to accept the new policy terms or lose their accounts

The popular messaging app owned by Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook has a user database of over two billion subscribers across the globe.

This makes it a robust platform for businesses to leverage on for information about existing and potential clientele.

Basically, the new changes mean that your data will be shared seamlessly with Facebook for the sake of the mother company’s ad targeting.

In other words, your activity on WhatsApp will be mined to guide Facebook on which companies should place adverts on your profile.

Part of the data shared out will be your phone number, IP address, details of your data transactions, purchase history as well as your payment and product interactions with other users.

This may be a negligible change to some and a creepy one to others, but then the risky bit comes to the fore for both parties.

Since your information will be shared with several other businesses for the sake of monetizing WhatsApp, the ever-imminent threats of hacking or data leakages will leave you exposed to cybercrime.

It has to be noted that the biggest casualties will be those with business accounts, but the good news is that end-to-end encryption has been retained.

In other words, your phone number or purchase history may be out there, but private conversations between you and your friends will not be read by third parties.

A statement from the company read in part; “The update does not change WhatsApp’s data sharing practices with Facebook and does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family.”

WhatsApp also maintains that once users accept the new terms and conditions, they will not be able to opt-out. The deadline for doing so is set at February 8, 2021, after which users who will not have opted in will lose their chats and WhatsApp contacts.

Furthermore, whereas deleting your account will erase the app plus all its information from your phone, the history and photos data will remain on the WhatsApp cloud.

There had been initial plans to have the app include pop up ads but that has been shelved.

So, which way forward, one may ask?

There are two viable options that individuals can move to if they feel uncomfortable about the new policies by WhatsApp.

The first is Signal, famed for its stance on privacy and embraced widely by privacy and academic researchers as well as cybersecurity experts.

The other is Telegram, although the platform has recently come under fire for allegedly helping in the sharing of pirated movies and music.

Whichever the case, it is good to decide whether or not to remain on WhatsApp before the deadline.