6 settings you must configure in WhatsApp to protect your privacy

WhatsApp witnessed a backlash over the past two weeks after announcing an update to its privacy policy; Where the idea that the application will force its users to share their data with Facebook raised concerns among users, and they began to search for other alternatives, which led to an increase in the installation of competing applications such as: Signal and Telegram.

The WhatsApp application is distinguished by that it provides an end-to-end encryption setting by default for all users – who number more than two billion users at this time – and this means that what you send through the application remains limited to you and the people with whom you communicate, and not Anyone, even WhatsApp or Facebook workers, can read the content of the messages you send, or extract them, and what they can access only are the two phones that act as endpoints in setting up encryption, where the app is installed. Thus, WhatsApp is the most popular encrypted instant messaging application in the world.

But the problem lies in the metadata that the app collects about you and may share it with Facebook – after your approval of course – which includes: phone number, your account picture, and your usage patterns – which include: the features you use, the groups you joined, how you interact with others within the app, and when You registered on WhatsApp, the last time you used the app, the number of times messages were sent, and other information such as: use of the status feature – device data, and much more.

The WhatsApp application collects a lot of data compared to its competing instant messaging applications, such as: Signal, Telegram, and iMessage, but when compared to other applications, such as: Facebook, Messenger, Google, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, it collects Very less data. So, if you use these apps then WhatsApp isn’t your real problem here.

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There is no doubt that the WhatsApp application has good security, and you can continue to use it, but there are some settings that you must adjust to reduce the data it collects about you:

1- Turn off the Last Seen feature:

Last Seen indicates the time of the last time you used the application, allowing your contacts to know this, but it is from the data that the application collects about you and you can stop it through the following steps:

Go to the WhatsApp application on your phone.
• Click on the three dots icon in the upper-right corner, then click on the Settings option.
• Click on the “Account” option.
• Click on the (privacy) option, and under the section (Who can see my personal info), you will find an option entitled (Last Seen); click on it.
• Three options will appear for you: (Everyone), (My contacts), and (Nobody), choose the third option.

2- Hide your account picture:

If you do not want anyone who has your phone number to access your WhatsApp account picture, you can adjust that, and making your account picture private will not prevent you from seeing anyone else’s photos.

• Click on the three dots icon located in the upper-right corner of the application interface, then click on the “Settings” option.
• Click on the “Account” option.
• Click on the “Privacy” option, then click on the “Profile Photo” option, and select the “Nobody” option.

3- Prevent you from being added to WhatsApp groups without your permission:

WhatsApp allows people to add you to group chats without your permission, but now you can customize settings to determine who can add you to groups and administrators who can’t add you to a group will have the option to invite you privately instead.

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• Click on the three dots icon located in the upper-right corner of the application interface, then click on the “Settings” option.
• Click on the “Account” option.
• Click on the option (Privacy) Privacy.
• Click on the “Groups” option, you will see 3 options: (everyone): everyone can add you to groups, and (My contacts): All your contacts can add you to groups, and (My contacts except …) contacts except: All of your contacts can add you to groups except the people you specify.
• If you select the third option, select anyone you do not want to be able to add you to the groups.

4- Prevent WhatsApp from accessing your location:

The GPS in your smartphone makes it easy for you to perform many tasks, such as: searching for places you want to go, getting traffic alerts, and it also makes it easy for you to share your current location with contacts through many applications, including: WhatsApp.
But the geographic location is one of the important data that apps collect on you to target you with ads; So you should check the privacy settings, and the geolocation of each application installed in your phone.

You can prevent WhatsApp from accessing your location through the following steps:

Go to (Settings) Settings on your device.
• Click on the option (Application Management) App Management.
• Click on the option (application permissions) App Permissions, a list of all the permissions you test for applications will appear.
• Click on the (Geolocation) permission, and you will see a list of all the applications that you have granted access to.
• Find the WhatsApp application, then select the Never option to prevent it from accessing your site.

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5- Hide WhatsApp statuses or show them to specific contacts:

Status is one of the most used features on WhatsApp, with over 500 million people using it every day. This feature allows WhatsApp users to share photos, short videos, and GIFs with contacts, and then automatically disappear after 24 hours, as it is similar to the stories feature in Instagram and Snapchat applications.

The app lets you share statuses with all of your contacts by default, but you can configure settings to only share them with the contacts you select.

6- Prevent WhatsApp from automatically saving photos and videos on your phone:

You can also use the Media auto-download feature to prevent WhatsApp from automatically saving photos and videos that you receive from contacts in your phone’s gallery, by following these steps:

Go to the WhatsApp application on your phone.
• Click on the three dots icon in the upper-right corner, then click on the Settings option.
• Click on the option (storage and data usage) “Storage and Data Usage”.
• Under the Media auto-download section, you will find three options: when using mobile data, when using Wi-Fi, and (when roaming) when roaming.
• Click on each option, and uncheck the box next to images, audio files, video clips, and documents as you wish.

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