Data-Sharing within Social Media: A Call to Action

Are You Aware of the Tabs Companies are Keeping on You?


Social media platforms have consistently been scrutinized, especially when the topic of data sharing is mentioned. Anytime a social media platform becomes popular, its privacy issues are often one of the first concerns voiced. In fact, last year the United States threatened to ban TikTok from US application stores due to privacy and data sharing concerns [2]. Facebook also came under fire in previous years due to data sharing. Therefore, it comes as little surprise that another messaging platform owned by Facebook, WhatsApp, was also publicly criticized.  


Earlier this year, WhatsApp came under criticism due to their updated terms of service, which informed users that they required users to share personal information. This personal data, including their phone number, would be shared with Facebook. Due to this change, many WhatsApp users became uncomfortable continuing to use this platform and shifted to Signal, a messaging app that claims to keep conversations secure and while also not reading the messages. 

WhatsApp has since clarified that the new privacy policy is related to businesses using the application for customer service purposes rather than consumer chats and profile data, however, the damage to its reputation has already been made and many users shifted from WhatsApp to Signal [1]. 


Signal is a messaging application, similar to WhatsApp, that allows users to communicate one-on-one or within a group. The application allows unique features such as disappearing messages which removes messages after an allocated time period. Signal also assures its users that they neither collect nor read any messages shared on the platform. For these reasons, some users, whom were previously using WhatsApp, have transitioned to Signal. 

Moving Forward 

Although many users have abandoned WhatsApp in favour of more transparent companies, the platform still boasts 2 billion monthly users thus effectively demonstrating that transparency is simply a non-issue to some users [3]. Moving forward, it is nearly impossible to ask readers to avoid all platforms that partake in any form of data-sharing, however, staying informed is always recommended. Keep using WhatsApp because it’s the app your family group chat is on, but be aware of their regulations. Continue to use Facebook, but stay up to date on their privacy rules. Use TikTok to destress from school, so long as you are aware of what data they may be collecting. In order to keep up to date on all the privacy agreements, ensuring that you read the End-User License Agreement (EULA) and/or Terms and Conditions (T&C) is a fantastic way of staying informed. A EULA/T&C is necessary because it holds both the user and the licenser to set of rules in order to protect both parties. It gives the user the right to use the software application in a specific manner, and it enforces the limitations of the software [4]. 


To conclude, social media platforms are well-known for the potential issues concerning privacy, however, avoiding all social media is not always feasible. For instance, you may need Facebook to connect with colleagues for a group project. When issues about privacy become mainstream news, such as WhatsApp, it often startles users about the reality of data-sharing. The answer to this issue is not avoidance but rather understanding and informing oneself. If you knew that Instagram saved all of your private messages, how would that alter your future DM’s? Be proactive and conduct your research on how the platforms you are using are collecting and/or sharing your data. 


[1] Page, C. (2021, January 13). WhatsApp clarifies facebook DATA-SHARING as users flock to RIVAL SIGNAL. Retrieved from

[2] Shpeer, K. (2020, December 21). TikTok: The latest and greatest social media platform. Retrieved from

[3] Tankovska, H. (2021, February 10). Most popular messaging apps. Retrieved from

[4] L., J. (2020, September 17). Eula versus terms and conditions. Retrieved from