WhatsApp New Policy: All dentists need to know

The latest announcement that WhatsApp will be getting new rules – and forcing users to agree to them. Thus spreading fear among the dentists who rely on the app to stay in touch with patients.

by Dr Muattar Hanif

How we communicate is continually changing. Technology brings changes. hence creating new and ever-increasing digital opportunities to interact.

As business owners, dentists must meet the changing habits of an ‘always switched on’ audience. They prefer to communicate at a pace they dictate.

As a dental practitioner, you may have direct and active marketing costs, such as Facebook campaigns. Dentists also have non-direct marketing investments, and of course, WhatsApp does handily.

Whatsapp has become a household name in the business sector; thanks to its ability to convert leads. Thus enabling and broadening the way dentists communicate with potential patients.

WhatsApp New Policy: A better change for dentists?

However, the latest announcement that WhatsApp will be getting new rules has spread fear among users. As most of them rely on the messaging app to stay in touch with friends and family.

WhatsApp has long prided itself on its commitment to security and privacy. With encrypted conversations and other essential technologies integrated into the app, Whatsapp can’t be more proud of itself.

But the new announcement has sparked fears of the exact opposite. The horror that people’s information is not being kept secret but instead shared with Facebook, is finally revealed.

But what is the truth over the WhatsApp changes, and how concerned should dentists be?

The event that kicked off the changes is WhatsApp’s new terms and a requirement that users commit to them. In the last couple of days, Whatsapp is asking users to give consent to those changes. For now, they can choose to leave it until later. Eventually, users will no longer be able to keep using the app unless they assent to the new rules.

Those new rules include many things. Such as a summary of how WhatsApp will share information with Facebook and how any shared data might be used.

“As part of the Facebook family of companies, WhatsApp receives information from and shares information with, this family of companies,” the new privacy policy states.

“We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings.”

That summary has led to the concerns and fears that people’s WhatsApp data might not be protected.

Whatsapp can’t see your private messages

One thing to note is that the “information” collected by WhatsApp does not include chat since those are encrypted and therefore can’t be seen. Instead, the information is personal data such as the phone number of users and their contacts.

As such, there is no concern – at least yet – that Facebook will harvest any benefit from private WhatsApp conversations.

The significant recent update is that WhatsApp has added new features to allow people to communicate with businesses – and Facebook could host those businesses. When speaking to those contacts, messages might be stored and managed by Facebook, and so those conversations could be shared with the company more generally.

Moving on from Whatsapp

Users should be informed if that happens, however. When speaking to a business that has decided to have its messages managed by Facebook, a message should appear – and users should stop talking to them if they would prefer that information is not shared.

A lot of dentists seem to be switching to Signal from WhatsApp. Signal is another messaging app, free and end-to-end encrypted, and which has gained a popularity push in light of the new WhatsApp policy. WhatsApp uses Signal’s protocol for its encryption. But Signal is not owned by any corporation and is run by a nonprofit.

January 12, 2021

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