Mark Zuckerberg defends WhatsApp's privacy update, takes shot at rivals


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended WhatsApp's new privacy policy on its quarterly earnings call on Wednesday and took potshots at competitors including Apple for allegedly making misleading claims.

Earlier in the month, WhatsApp unveiled a new privacy policy update that allows it to share extensive metadata and business chats with parent Facebook. This information can be used by it for targetted advertising. After the update faced a backlash from privacy and security experts and led to an increase in downloads of smaller rival apps like Signal, WhatsApp pushed back the implementation by three months to May 2021.

"First and foremost, people care if their conversations stay private, but after that, people also care about safety and other convenience too. And from this perspective, WhatsApp and the direction that we’re heading in with Messenger are the best private social apps available. Now, we have a lot of competitors who make claims about privacy that are often misleading," Zuckerberg said.

He said Apple's iMessage stores non-end-to-end encrypted backups of users messages by default, unless they disable iCloud. So, Apple and governments have the ability to access most people’s messages, he added.

"So, when it comes to what matters most, protecting people’s messages, I think that WhatsApp is clearly superior," Zuckerberg said.


He also spoke on Facebook's plans to expand commerce capabilities on its products, especially for the benefit of small businesses. He said that earlier only large companies could afford to have analytics or targeted advertising capacity to reach their customers but now with the social media giant's tools they would be able to do the same.

"When you hear people say that we hold a lot of data, that’s because hundreds of millions of businesses that would have otherwise had to do this individually and would have had no easy way of doing so are now using our services to help them reach customers. And when you hear people say that we’re connecting data from lots of sources, that’s to help small businesses reach customers more efficiently. Now, big companies often do this themselves, but small businesses can’t, a lot of times. So, we do this for them" he said.

He said when people argue that Facebook shouldn’t be doing these things or that companies should go back to the old days of untargeted television ads, they are arguing for regression where only the largest companies have this capacity, small businesses are severely disadvantaged and competition is diminished.

"With our commerce tools, we’ve made it so that a business can set up a shop once, and then they will have an online storefront in both, Facebook and Instagram immediately, and eventually on WhatsApp and Messenger as well," he said.

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