WhatsApp is the most popular messaging application in the world, and according to Statista data as of July 2019, there are 1.6 billion people who use this platform every month.
As a communication platform, WhatsApp is set by default to share as much information about you as possible with friends or other users.
However, without you knowing WhatsApp has shared more information about you than you think, which for some people, it seriously disturbs their privacy.
Here are some useful Whatsapp privacy tips to protect your privacy and data
1. Set who sees your profile photo and About bio
When you join WhatsApp, you are given the option to upload a profile picture and change ‘Hey there! I’m using WhatsApp’ to a more personal message.
Many people change that by entering information about their work, websites, other social media accounts, universities where they used to study, or where they lived.
All of this information is available to anyone who sends you messages on WhatsApp, even people you don’t know. This can make some users vulnerable.
For example, if you provide WhatsApp contact info to strangers you have just met in a dating application, that person can use that information to tail you, especially if the ‘About You’ statement includes where you work or live.
That is why you must ensure that the permission option for who can see your profile photo and About bio is not set to ‘Everyone’ and vice versa is set to ‘None’ or only ‘My Contacts’.
You can do this by entering WhatApp settings and tap Account > Privacy > Profile Photo and Account > Privacy > About.
2. Control who sees your WhatsApp Status
WhatsApp also offers a feature called ‘Status’ that allows you to share photos or text as status updates. By default, all of your WhatsApp contacts can see this status update, whether it’s friends, colleagues, or your boss.
Sometimes there are statuses that you think don’t deserve to be seen by bosses or other institutional partners, even if your friends find your status funny and entertaining.
For this reason, you can be selective who can see your status. In WhatsApp settings, open Account > Privacy > Status and change from ‘My Contacts’ to ‘My Contacts Except’ or ‘Only Shared With’.
The first option allows you to exclude certain people from seeing your status update. The second allows you to give only a few specific contacts the ability to see it.
In general, ‘Share Only With’ is a safer option because it will automatically exclude new WhatsApp contacts that you added since the last time you changed this setting.
3. Hide Last Seen Status
Don’t let someone you don’t want stalk you. Sometimes a stalker always checks when you were last online or always sends a message when you appear online, while you feel bad if you don’t respond.
To avoid this and hide when you were last online, all you have to do is tap Account > Privacy and tap ‘Last seen’ > select ‘None’ instead of ‘Everyone’ or ‘My contact’.
4. Deactivate Read Receipts
In order not to be distracted by less important messages, while you are busy and do not want to reply immediately, you can deactivate ‘Read Receipts’. To do this, tap Account > Privacy and slide the switch to the OFF position.
5. Limit WhatsApp’s access to data
Even though the owner of WhatsApp, Facebook, claims to have done nothing bad about your data connected to WhatsApp, it’s a good idea to remain sceptical.
To be safer, you need to limit WhatsApp’s ability to access your data outside the application.
On iOS and Android, you can set WhatsApp access permissions to your location, photos, contacts, calendar, microphone and camera. To set it up, you can do it via ‘Settings’ on the mobile device.
Select Apps & notifications > WhatsApp > Permission > and disable WhatsApp access to your location, photos, contacts, calendar, microphone and camera.
But, there are consequences. You cannot make voice and video calls, other than just text chat. You must change the settings manually if you want to make video calls, voice calls, and take photos to the gallery. Then restore settings when done.
Blocking WhatsApp into your Contacts is certainly not liked by Facebook because WhatsApp’s parent company wants to know who you know, from your friends, your boss to your personal doctor.
And if you ever forbid WhatsApp access to your Contacts, Facebook will erase your ability to see the names of your WhatsApp contacts in the application, although the application can still easily show the name of each contact because each WhatsApp user sets a user name (usually their own) when they join the application.
This is one of the most manipulative things Facebook does with WhatsApp. But the company knows that just looking at a user’s phone number is enough to force people to submit their Contact data.
6. Activate two-step verification
To protect your conversations on WhatsApp from being watched by others, you need to activate the application unlock key with two-step verification.
You do this in WhatsApp settings by logging into Account > Two-Step Verification. With this activated, you must enter your PIN when registering your phone number with WhatsApp again.
This ensures that bad people who have falsified your number will not be able to get into your WhatsApp account on their mobile and see all your messages without that PIN.
Furthermore, if you are using an iPhone, you can add an additional layer of biometric security to the WhatsApp application.
To do this, in WhatsApp settings, go to Account > Privacy > Screen Lock. On iOS, activate the ‘Require Face ID’ or ‘Require Touch ID’ switch to the ON position and select how fast you want to request this authentication to open the application again after closing it.
On the latest Android smartphones, users can activate the WhatsApp app lock with a fingerprint.
7. Disable cloud backup
Finally, you must disable cloud backup of your WhatsApp messages. Setting up WhatsApp to back up your messages to online cloud services like Apple iCloud is useful because it gives you a way to retrieve those messages on a new device if the old ones are lost or stolen.
However, when you back up your WhatsApp messages to services like iCloud, your WhatsApp messages that are encrypted end-to-end are stored in an unencrypted format, giving anyone who can access your cloud account, such as a hacker, the ability to read each WhatsApp message you’ve ever sent.
WhatsApp even explicitly warns users about this risk in the application. If that is too risky for you, the best thing is to disable cloud backup. On iPhone, open Chat > Backup Chat > Automatic Backup and set this option to the OFF position.
On an Android smartphone, open Chat > Backup Chat, and make sure ‘Backup to Google Drive’ is set to ‘Never’. “