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The dark side of WhatsApp: the small print at a glance

WhatsApp has its fair share of good news touting the popularity of the messaging app as well as the bad: from chain letters, death threats, to vulnerabilities. But there is also a different aspect of the app which is rarely mentioned in public and which you may not really know anything about, although you should. How many of you actually read the terms and conditions when you install apps? Well, WhatsApp isn’t any different and this app has a dark side when it comes to them and what you accept when you install the app.

whatsapp icon homescreen
© AndroidPIT

A large number of people probably didn’t even realize that the legal mumbo jumbo existed when they installed WhatsApp or the legal consequences and implications. For example, who is responsible when sending an image to WhatsApp group chat? What about if your smartphone and by association, your account, has been stolen?  Check out the small print found in the privacy and terms.

Change in conditions

The first thing that should be clear is that this application reserves the right to change the terms of use at any time , without notice. Thus, it is the users responsibility to keep up to date with any changes that may occur. Most companies, despite having this clause, will provide a heads-up when they update their terms and conditions however, so we hope that WhatsApp would do the same. 

Minimum Age

Many people ignore that in order to use this application; the person must be at least 16 years. If this is not the case requires parental permission to use WhatsApp.

Guarantees and security

  • The first controversial aspect of WhatsApp is the fact that it cannot guarantee that conversations or files are exchanged confidential. The security problem in the application and in our private conversations has given much to talk about, and looks like it will remain that way for some time;
  • Moreover, it is also necessary to stress that chats in WhatsApp are not erased, they just become hidden and archived in the database of the app (including our status updates);
  • WhatsApp also gets all the information of our contacts, since we sent our phone number to the application in order to authorize it, our address book with the information for each contact (name, email address and all the details entered before adding the contact). For this, WhatsApp is given special rights, ie it is supported by the assumption that we already had permission from our contacts in regards to your private information. In other words, WhatsApp washes its hands of any wrong doing on this part, and the responsibility always lies with the user.


  • It is forbidden to use WhatsApp for commercial purposes, in the case of a strictly personal application. . Purchases, advertising, etc., are not allowed in chat app;
  • The use of bots to send mass mailings or spam is strictly prohibited;
  • While sexual content is not explicitly prohibited, it requires a prior warning, for when sending images or adult themed emoticons;
  • It is prohibited to use the code to develop clones of the WhatsApp applications (good examples are illegal tools that hide the time of the last connection or that peek in on peer conversations );
  • It is also prohibited to send content that is not yours. By violating the intellectual property, for example, you take all responsibility.
  • The same goes for links illegal site, for example.
© AndroidPIT

Obligations and consequences

  • If you lose your smartphone or if it is stolen, you should write an email to WhatsApp stating what happened. Then we will be exempt from liability if someone breaks a rule with our account;
  • If you violate any of the rules or conditions of using WhatsApp, the developers can delete your account without prior explanation;
  • We have 12 months to report incidents in the application (viruses, bots, spam, etc..).

And so, while WhatsApp has had some security gaps and flaws that have been exposed in the past, the developers and their lawyers have definitely created an almost airtight privacy and terms in preparation of any type of outcome.

So, did you know about the terms and conditions before using WhatsApp? I know I usually skim over them in quick succession just to be able to test out the app or game, but I might have to take a little bit closer look at what I’m agreeing to before accepting. 


Write new comment:
  • Paulina Jan 21, 2014 Link to comment

    Ehh - nothing unusual in there and really just basics for the company to properly protect themselves. You should read over your Facebook Terms of Service and Privacy Policy! That's some hairy stuff!

  • David D. Dec 20, 2013 Link to comment

    Now, you've made me paranoid. I think I should make my friends switch to Telegram....

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