Part I. Two Opening Vignettes
1.) WhatsApp, an instant messaging app for smartphones, allows users to send textmessages, documents, images, videos, user location data, and other data over the internet to other WhatsAppusers, using standard cellular mobile numbers. In the past, WhatsApp has been a strong defender of its users’ privacy, employing end-to-end encryption for all messages sent through its service and regularlyresisting requests from authoritiesfordata access. As a result, WhatsApp has been the instant messaging app of choice for users who wish to keep their conversations private, including individuals working to expose corruption within organizations and those reporting on the activities of totalitarian governments.
Facebook purchased WhatsAppfor $22 billion in 2014. After the sale to Facebook was announced, WhatsApp CEO and cofounder Jan Koumdeclared that nothing would change with the company’s privacypractices. Indeed, Koum posted that ‘If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn’thave done it.’ This statement has come back to haunt him.
In the fall of 2016, WhatsApp announced atht it would begin providing user data—including phone numbers, usage data, and information on devices and operating systems being used—to Facebook and the ‘Facebook family of companies.’ According to the company, thisinformation allows Facebook to make better friendsuggestions and display more relevant ads to users while also allowing businesses to send messages to users, including appointment reminders, delivery and shipping notifications, and marketing pitches. The policy shift is intended to help WhatsApp generate more revenue and makes economic sense; however, the change has raised concerns over the privacy of users’ conversations and identities and has upset users drawn to the app by the company’s previousstrong stance on privacy.
Is this policy shift by WhatsApp morally justified? Answer yes or no and explain your answer: