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You should be worried about how much info WhatsApp shares with Facebook



It’s the messaging app that connects a quarter of the world’s population, but many Americans still have haven’t heard of WhatsApp. That’s because most phone plans in the United States provide a standard flat rate for texting that allows people to communicate freely within the country. But throughout much of the world, including many of the world’s poorest countries, people are charged for every single message they send and receive.

That is why, since its launch in 2009, WhatsApp has become a vital resource for billions of people – and they are prepared to defend it. When the Lebanese government tried to bring in a “WhatsApp tax”, charging $0.20 daily for calls made on the app, it helped trigger the mass protests that swept the country in 2019.

One thing that does connect Americans to WhatsApp users, however, is Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and his flagrant disregard for data privacy. Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 in a move to consolidate control over global communications. Now Zuckerberg is moving ahead with a change to WhatsApp’s privacy policy that aims to commercialize our communications in order to feed Facebook’s insatiable greed.

At the time of WhatsApp’s purchase in 2014, the app did not collect phone numbers, metadata, or other contact information. Facebook promised to keep it this way. “We are absolutely not going to change plans around WhatsApp and the way it uses user data,” Zuckerberg claimed. “WhatsApp is going to operate completely autonomously.”

Yet on 15 May, when Zuckerberg implements a new privacy update, this will be just one more in a series of his broken promises on data privacy. In 2016, WhatsApp implemented an update to its terms and conditions that allowed data like a user’s phone number to be shared with Facebook. Users were technically given 30 days’ notice to opt out. However, many were unaware of the possible opt-out and missed the small window in which they could do so, while the approximately one billion users who joined since were given no choice at all.

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WhatsApp announced its latest privacy update in January, with changes initially meant to take effect on 8 February. However, a popular outcry pushed the date back to 15 May, with Facebook no doubt hoping that public outrage would fade, paving the way for a quiet implementation.

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But public outrage has not faded. And so Facebook has opted for a familiar tactic: sow confusion and force through its new policy change anyway. The company is pestering WhatsApp users to accept the policy change by 15 May or, under a new opaque timeframe, a few additional weeks. Those who ignore or refuse the decision will lose access to basic WhatsApp functioning.

Time is now running for Zuckerberg to reverse course in this latest assault on global communications – and protect the privacy of all WhatsApp users at this critical hour for democracy and dissent around the world.

Facebook, for its part, has spent the months since the announcement downplaying the significance of these privacy updates by arguing that its latest changes will only affect communication with business accounts (WhatsApp Business was launched in January 2018). In truth, the changes will allow Facebook to collect payment and transaction data from WhatsApp users, meaning Facebook will be able to gather even more data and target users with ever more personalized ads. WhatsApp has also removed a passage in its privacy policy about opting out of sharing data with Facebook. Facebook argues that this simply reflects what’s been in place since 2016. That is exactly the problem.Today’s WhatsApp shares a great deal of information with Facebook it promised it wouldn’t, including account information, phone numbers, how often and how long people use WhatsApp, information about how they interact with other users, IP addresses, browser details, language, time zone, etc. This latest incursion has highlighted just how much data sharing has been going on for years without most users’ knowledge.

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Facebook is again abusing its monopoly position and counting on a lack of options to make sure it can extract even more wealth from WhatsApp. And this time there is no opting out. As part of an ongoing 2020 lawsuit filed by 48 states and districts of the United States against Facebook, in large part due to its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, New York attorney general Letitia James has argued: “Instead of competing on the merits, Facebook used its powers to suppress competition so it could take advantage of users and make billions by converting personal data into a cash cow.”

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This isn’t the case for Europeans, though, among whom WhatsApp is also extremely popular. Europeans’ privacy is protected thanks to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. Meanwhile, in India, where more than 400 million people use WhatsApp, the Delhi high court is petitioning Facebook to provide an opt-out option. The plea in the high court is simply a request that WhatsApp provide the same privacy standards to its Indian users as it provides to those in the EU. Policymakers around the world have a duty to follow suit and protect citizens from encroachments that discriminate against users in the developing world.

We cannot let Mark Zuckerberg’s use one of the world’s most important messaging services as his latest data goldmine. May 15 is fast approaching. We must ensure a right to privacy for all. We can begin by putting a stop to Facebook’s latest move against WhatsApp users. But Facebook has shown, once again, that when it comes to data exploitation there are no promises it won’t break. Given Facebook’s business model, predicated on privacy invasion and consumer exploitation, Facebook should never have been allowed to acquire WhatsApp. The time to break up Facebook has come. The time to act is now.

  • Burcu Kilic directs Digital Rights Program at Public Citizen. Sophia Crabbe-Field is associate editor at Democracy: A Journal of Ideas

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Introducing Facebook Graph API v18.0 and Marketing API v18.0





Today, we are releasing Facebook Graph API v18.0 and Marketing API v18.0. As part of this release, we are highlighting changes below that we believe are relevant to parts of our developer community. These changes include announcements, product updates, and notifications on deprecations that we believe are relevant to your application(s)’ integration with our platform.

For a complete list of all changes and their details, please visit our changelog.

General Updates

Consolidation of Audience Location Status Options for Location Targeting

As previously announced in May 2023, we have consolidated Audience Location Status to our current default option of “People living in or recently in this location” when choosing the type of audience to reach within their Location Targeting selections. This update reflects a consolidation of other previously available options and removal of our “People traveling in this location” option.

We are making this change as part of our ongoing efforts to deliver more value to businesses, simplify our ads system, and streamline our targeting options in order to increase performance efficiency and remove options that have low usage.

This update will apply to new or duplicated campaigns. Existing campaigns created prior to launch will not be entered in this new experience unless they are in draft mode or duplicated.

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Add “add_security_recommendation” and “code_expiration_minutes” to WA Message Templates API

Earlier this year, we released WhatsApp’s authentication solution which enabled creating and sending authentication templates with native buttons and preset authentication messages. With the release of Graph API v18, we’re making improvements to the retrieval of authentication templates, making the end-to-end authentication template process easier for BSPs and businesses.

With Graph API v18, BSPs and businesses can have better visibility into preset authentication message template content after creation. Specifically, payloads will return preset content configuration options, in addition to the text used by WhatsApp. This improvement can enable BSPs and businesses to build “edit” UIs for authentication templates that can be constructed on top of the API.

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Note that errors may occur when upgrading to Graph API v18 if BSPs or businesses are taking the entire response from the GET request and providing it back to the POST request to update templates. To resolve, the body/header/footer text fields should be dropped before passing back into the API.

Re-launching dev docs and changelogs for creating Call Ads

  • Facebook Reels Placement for Call Ads

    Meta is releasing the ability to deliver Call Ads through the Facebook Reels platform. Call ads allow users to call businesses in the moment of consideration when they view an ad, and help businesses drive more complex discussions with interested users. This is an opportunity for businesses to advertise with call ads based on peoples’ real-time behavior on Facebook. Under the Ad set Level within Ads Manager, businesses can choose to add “Facebook Reels” Under the Placements section.
  • Re-Launching Call Ads via API

    On September 12, 2023, we’re providing updated guidance on how to create Call Ads via the API. We are introducing documentation solely for Call Ads, so that 3P developers can more easily create Call Ads’ campaigns and know how to view insights about their ongoing call ad campaigns, including call-related metrics. In the future, we also plan to support Call Add-ons via our API platform. Developers should have access to the general permissions necessary to create general ads in order to create Call Ads via the API platform.

    Please refer to developer documentation for additional information.

Deprecations & Breaking Changes

Graph API changes for user granular permission feature

We are updating two graph API endpoints for WhatsAppBusinessAccount. These endpoints are as follows:

  • Retrieve message templates associated with WhatsAppBusiness Account
  • Retrieve phone numbers associated with WhatsAppBusiness Account

With v18, we are rolling out a new feature “user granular permission”. All existing users who are already added to WhatsAppBusinessAccount will be backfilled and will continue to have access (no impact).

The admin has the flexibility to change these permissions. If the admin changes the permission and removes access to view message templates or phone numbers for one of their users, that specific user will start getting an error message saying you do not have permission to view message templates or phone numbers on all versions v18 and older.

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Deprecate legacy metrics naming for IG Media and User Insights

Starting on September 12, Instagram will remove duplicative and legacy, insights metrics from the Instagram Graph API in order to share a single source of metrics to our developers.

This new upgrade reduces any confusion as well as increases the reliability and quality of our reporting.

After 90 days of this launch (i.e. December 11, 2023), we will remove all these duplicative and legacy insights metrics from the Instagram Graph API on all versions in order to be more consistent with the Instagram app.

We appreciate all the feedback that we’ve received from our developer community, and look forward to continuing to work together.

Please review the media insights and user insights developer documentation to learn more.

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Deprecate all Facebook Wi-Fi v1 and Facebook Wi-Fi v2 endpoints

Facebook Wi-Fi was designed to improve the experience of connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots at businesses. It allowed a merchant’s customers to get free Wi-Fi simply by checking in on Facebook. It also allowed merchants to control who could use their Wi-Fi and for how long, and integrated with ads to enable targeting to customers who had used the merchant’s Wi-Fi. This product was deprecated on June 12, 2023. As the partner notice period has ended, all endpoints used by Facebook Wi-Fi v1 and Facebook Wi-Fi v2 have been deprecated and removed.

API Version Deprecations:

As part of Facebook’s versioning schedule for Graph API and Marketing API, please note the upcoming deprecations:

Graph API

  • September 14, 2023: Graph API v11.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform
  • February 8, 2024: Graph API v12.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform
  • May 28, 2024: Graph API v13.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform

Marketing API

  • September 20, 2023: Marketing API v14.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform
  • September 20, 2023: Marketing API v15.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform
  • February 06, 2024: Marketing API v16.0 will be deprecated and removed from the platform

To avoid disruption to your business, we recommend migrating all calls to the latest API version that launched today.

Facebook Platform SDK

As part of our 2-year deprecation schedule for Platform SDKs, please note the upcoming deprecations and sunsets:

  • October 2023: Facebook Platform SDK v11.0 or below will be sunset
  • February 2024: Facebook Platform SDK v12.0 or below will be sunset

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Allowing Users to Promote Stories as Ads (via Marketing API)





Before today (August 28, 2023), advertisers could not promote images and/or videos used in Instagram Stories as ads via the Instagram Marketing API. This process created unwanted friction for our partners and their customers.

After consistently hearing about this pain point from our developer community, we have removed this unwanted friction for advertisers and now allow users to seamlessly promote their image and/or video media used in Instagram Stories as ads via the Instagram Marketing API as of August 28, 2023.

We appreciate all the feedback received from our developer community, and hope to continue improving your experience.

Please review the developer documentation to learn more.

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Launching second release of Facebook Reels API: An enterprise solution for desktop and web publishers





We’re excited to announce that the second release of FB Reels API is now publicly available for third-party developers. FB Reels API enables users of third-party platforms to share Reels directly to public Facebook Pages and the New Pages Experience.

FB Reels API has grown significantly since the first release in September 2022. The new version of the APIs now support custom thumbnails, automatic music tagging, tagging collaborators, longer format of reels and better error handling.

FB Reels API will also support scheduling and draft capability to allow creators to take advantage of tools provided either by Meta or by our partners. Based on the feedback we received from our partners, we’ll now provide additional audio insights via the Audio Recommendations API and reels performance metrics via the Insights API.

Our goal in the next couple of releases is to continue to make it easier for creators to develop quality content by adding features like early copyright detection and A/B testing. We’re also excited to start working on enhanced creation features like Video clipping- so stay tuned to hear more about those features in the future.


If you are a developer interested in integrating with the Facebook Reels API, please refer to the Developer Documents for more info.

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Not sure if this product is for you? Check out our entire suite of sharing offerings.

Tune in to Product @scale event to learn more about FB Video APIs and hear from some of our customers.

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