WhatsApp this product meets our minimum security standards
Facebook | Free


Review Date 04/23/2020

WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging clients in the world with over 2 billion (yes, billion) users worldwide. The app is encrypted by default with end-to-end encryption for both messages and calls, which is good for your privacy. It’s also owned by Facebook which means Facebook can access the personal data WhatsApp collects on you, which is bad for your privacy. When it comes to video, WhatsApp allows for one-on-one calls and group calling with up to eight people. Just beware, WhatsApp has a pretty well known misinformation problem.

Minimum Security Standards

Five basic steps every company should take to protect consumer privacy. Learn more.

Overall Security Rating
5/5 star
WhatsApp encrypts messages by default with end-to-end encryption.
Security updates
WhatsApp releases updates around once a month, sometimes more often.
Strong password
WhatsApp allows users to set up a fingerprint lock or faceID as an extra layer of security, although this is not on by default. Users can and should password protect their phone to keep unwanted people from making WhatsApp calls if they chose not to set up this extra security.
Manages vulnerabilities
Facebook has a bug bounty program
Privacy policy

What is required to sign up?

A phone number is required to sign up for WhatsApp. Either a phone or email can be used to sign up for two-factor authentication within WhatsApp.

How does it handle privacy?

How does it share data?
WhatsApp collects information on you such as phone number, name, profile picture, status, contacts and information other companies provide about you to WhatsApp. Whatsapp says it shares your personal information with third-party partners for operating and advertising purposes. WhatsApp is also owned by Facebook and shares your personal information with them. Facebook can then share your personal information with third-party partners and mix your data with information Facebook learns about you from any of Facebook’s companies. Because Facebook is well known for collecting a lot of information on its users and not alway handling that personal data with care, this raises some concern about how WhatsApp handles personal information as well.
How are your recordings handled?
WhatsApp doesn't allow for video chat recordings.
Alerts when calls are being recorded?
Video calls can't be recorded within WhatsApp. Third party apps do exist that allow for call recording in WhatsApp however.
Does the platform say it is compliant with US medical privacy laws?
WhatsApp is not HIPAA compliant

Can I control it?

Host controls
Hosts can hang up, mute their mic, and add contacts to a group call during the call.
Is it easy to learn and use the features?
A FAQ section of the WhatsApp site offers simple tutorials on features. How-to videos from the company also detail features in an easy to understand format. https://faq.whatsapp.com/

What could happen if something went wrong

WhatsApp does a decent job with security. When it comes to privacy, anything owned by Facebook leaves us wary. Video chat aside, it's worth considering the tool's role in spreading misinformation and whether the company has done enough to address this concern. WhatsApp has become such a major source of misinformation about the coronavirus that world leaders have been calling out the app by name, begging people to stop sharing unverified information. WhatsApp did take steps to try and stop the flood of misinformation when it began limiting the number of times people could pass on frequently forwarded content to five chats at once. So, it's worth considering whether you want to get into an app environment that has a history of being a hotbed of misinformation like conspiracy theories that coronavirus is caused by 5G cell towers.


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WhatsApp tightens message forwarding restrictions to combat coronavirus misinformation
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The recent WhatsApp™ hack is pretty alarming: all the hackers had to do was drop a missed encrypted WhatsApp call to their target and—boom—spyware was installed. The hack didn’t require the user to do anything—even if the user didn’t pick up the phone the spyware would still be installed. But maybe what’s most important about it is that it shines a light on the myth that security is equal to end-to-end encryption.
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