Most people have heard of WhatsApp. In fact, there are few people who aren’t using it. Today, it stands as the market-leading messaging app in over 100 countries.
And, since we’ve been in lockdown, it’s really come into its own. It’s so user-friendly, that people of all ages, across generations, are using it to keep in touch, share photos and have video calls.
But, with the lines between work and home becoming increasingly blurred, more and more people are starting to use WhatsApp as a means of communication at work.
There are team WhatsApp chats and some people are even using it to contact their customers.
So, what’s the problem?
There are two quite big problems, actually!
Using the free version of WhatsApp for non-personal use is now a violation
When WhatsApp launched the business API version of their app at the end of last year (for monetisation) they also updated their terms of service. Most of us probably blindly scrolled and clicked ‘accept’ but you will have missed a crucial part:
“In addition, beginning on December 7, 2019, WhatsApp will take legal action against those […] that violate our Terms of Service, such as […] non-personal use, even if that determination is based on information solely available to us off our platform.“
In other words, using the free version of WhatsApp for non-personal use (for work) is enough for them to pursue legal action against you. If you want to use it for business, you should be using the WhatsApp API for Business version.
GDPR and personal data
WhatsApp is given full access to your contacts. Which is fine if it’s your best mates and Aunty Joan. But, when you have client or supplier contacts on your phone because you’re using WhatsApp to communicate with them, there’s a very serious data protection issue and risk to personal data. For example, if you then sign-up to use the app HouseParty (which many have since lockdown), you’re giving access to a third-party and your customer/supplier contacts have not given their consent for this.
What should I do?
Make sure you and your team are not using the standard (free) version of WhatsApp for business-related communication, particularly with clients and suppliers. It may be easy and convenient, but in the longrun, it’s just not worth the risk.