AN UNDERGRADUATE student in Sevilla has discovered the social network Facebook and text-messaging service WhatsApp are sharing user information with each other.
Javier Santos, 20, who is reading IT engineering in the southern university, found a programming code from the new version of WhatsApp, still at the test stage, which would allow data transfer between this and Facebook.
Facebook bought WhatsApp two years ago in February for €13.8 billion, but has always maintained the two are completely independent from each other.
“I didn't intend to broadcast anything about it, but look at the sensation it's caused,” confessed Javier, whose discovery went viral within days of his discovering the programme.
“This is not the first time I've investigated beta versions looking for new features. Functions of Apps tend to be left prepared and, now and again, I've experimented, but I never expected to find anything.
Specialising in Android technology for his degree, Javier says all he needed to do was to access the code that the instant messaging service had made public on its page, and play with it a bit to find out two aspects of the network not known to date.
“The first is a screen WhatsApp is going to use which will show you that your conversations are encrypted and therefore safe; the second, the one that has gone viral, is that WhatsApp will be sending data about your account to Facebook,” he says.
Breaking the companies' promises to remain independent, the data-sharing programme is due to be introduced once WhatsApp ceases to be a US$0.99-a-year service.
“When you're not paying, you are the product,” Javier warns.
But he admits that the type of information likely to be shared between the two networks is 'mainly statistics and details about when you were last online'.
As yet, neither Facebook nor WhatsApp have commented on the findings.