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I don’t have a WhatsApp (and Facebook) account, but I did hear about their terms change — users are required to accept to the new policies wherein WhatsApp data can now be shared with Facebook. As I understand, this does not impact the e2e (end-to-end encrypted) messages aspect of WhatsApp. It’s based on the Signal protocol and messages will continue to remain as private as possible.

Related Hacker News thread: WhatsApp gives users an ultimatum: Share data with Facebook or stop using app.

What’s changing this time though, or better said, what’s made more explicit is that, other aspects of WhatsApp usage may now be shared with Facebook. Paul’s article here particular covers what’s changing in detail, and also backs up with relevant sources:

In practice, this means that WhatsApp shares a lot of intel with Facebook, including account information like your phone number, logs of how long and how often you use WhatsApp, information about how you interact with other users, device identifiers, and other device details like IP address, operating system, browser details, battery health information, app version, mobile network, language and time zone. Transaction and payment data, cookies, and location information are also all fair game to share with Facebook depending on the permissions you grant WhatsApp in the first place.

As I understood from a few other Hacker News and media articles, WhatsApp made another drive-by change: Removed text about not having access to private keys. This comment in particular highlights that an user’s opt-in for WhatsApp business account delegates access to Facebook, which as a vendor of WhatsApp Business API.

To most, this sharing of access may not matter, but I feel differently. Especially in a world where better, privacy-focussed options, like Signal and Telegram (only via secret chats) are available, it’s a no-brainer to consider these options. Mohan has covered some privacy-respective messenger app alternatives that you may like to read.

I have been a Signal user for many years, but have truly stood by it in the last year or so.

I am very pleased with their growth, especially in India, and I am pleased that most of my friends and family are moving over as well. If you haven’t moved yet, you may consider doing so today. We may as well read Brian Acton, Elon Musk and Edward Snowden’s work/tweets as an endorsement. It’s particularly interesting to know that WhatsApp co-founder (Brian Acton) left Facebook post acquisition, to infuse 50 million dollars in Signal.

Signal is a non-profit company, free, publishes their client-side and server-side code in the open, and promises unexpected focus on privacy. It’s among the very few apps (the only other platform that I know of is Matrix, but it’s riddled with bugs) in the market that offer synchronized, end-to-end encrypted messaging.

With their focus being on privacy, it’s natural that they are not able to offer advanced features like Telegram bots, and that’s okay.

I see that as a decent tradeoff.

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Limiting Facebook and Google activities to specific Firefox containers

Mozilla Firefox’s one of the best features is the ability to use multiple logins on a specific website at the time, using the Multi-account containers feature. This feature is available as an extension for Firefox on the desktop, since Firefox 57.0, Firefox Quantum.
Cookies are contained with the color-coded tabs on the same browser session, allowing one to use multiple logins of a particular website at the same time. You can learn more on how this feature works here.

I recently came across two plugins that takes this feature even further, making it very useful. Meet Facebook container and Google container.
The Facebook container is made by Mozilla, while the Google container is a fork by another developer.
When you activate these extensions on your Firefox browser, your Facebook and Google cookies are deleted. The next time you visit Google or Facebook, the respective content will open on a tab that is contained within this container.

A Facebook link contained within the Facebook container on Firefox Quantum

This means, Facebook and Google will no longer will able to read your activities on other websites. You can safely contain to browser other websites that you need, as usual, and these tabs will open on your regular container.

Only Facebook and Google sites will load on their specific containers.
Something even better is that, these extensions do not necessarily apply only to facebook.com and google.com domains.

I read the code a bit, and it looks like most Facebook-owned domains are listed which includes WhatsApp and Instagram.

Likewise blogspot domains are contained within the Google container.
It should be possible that you can extend this code to other domains that Facebook and Google own as well, or fork the original Mozilla code for Facebook container and write your extension.

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Facebook is limiting link customization ability, Here's what you should know

Facebook is reportedly dropping support for customizing link previews you don’t own. Going forward, you will have to verify your domains on Facebook Business Manager to be able to customize a link’s title, meta description or image when you sharing the link to Facebook.
Facebook is doing this to prevent misuse of link customization for domains you don’t own. This effect goes live from Dec 18, and this blog post has detailed description on what you should do to verify your domain.
If you are a website owner, publisher or a webmaster in general, you should read that post and act on it as soon as possible.