Q&A: Will Cathcart of WhatsApp on Facebook-Apple Feud, Privacy Policy, Competing Apps, and Message Traceability in India (Alex Kantrowitz/OneZero)

qa whatsapp will cathcart facebookapple whatsapp indiakantrowitz onezero
qa whatsapp will cathcart facebookapple whatsapp indiakantrowitz onezero(Image Credit: Instagram)

With the ongoing battle between Apple and Facebook over tech privacy issues, it’s no surprise that WhatsApp is caught right in the middle. The popular messaging app has recently debuted a new privacy policy that allows users to opt out of data sharing with Facebook.

It’s also been involved in a debate over the traceability of messages in India. To find out more about this issue and others facing WhatsApp, OneZero sat down with its CEO Will Cathcart to discuss what the company is doing to protect user privacy and safety. 

Background on Facebook-Apple Feud

The feud between Apple and Facebook started when Apple announced new features for iOS14 that require apps like Facebook to ask for permission to track users for ad targeting purposes. This greatly impacts Facebook’s business model of targeted ads based on user data collection a model that is essential to their revenue stream.

As a result, Facebook has strongly opposed the move by Apple and has warned investors that there could be potential “significant financial harm” if the feature goes ahead as planned. 

WhatsApp’s Response to New Features on iOS 14

Given the close relationship between WhatsApp and Facebook, one might expect that these new changes from Apple would have a major impact on how users interact with the messaging app.

However, according to Will Cathcart, this isn’t necessarily the case. “We’ve designed our platform so that these changes aren’t going to affect people using WhatsApp,” he said. “We don’t rely on tracking people across other sites or apps as many companies do.”

He went on to note that WhatsApp does sometimes use information from its parent company (Facebook) but only for things such as targeting advertising within the app itself something which will still be possible under iOS 14’s new rules due to special permissions granted by Apple. 

New Privacy Policy & Competing Apps

In response to recent scrutiny over its data collection practices, WhatsApp recently launched a new privacy policy that allows users to opt out of having their information shared with Facebook, while still being able to keep access to all other aspects of message functionality within the platform.

According to Will Cathcart, this was done so as “to give people more control over how their information is used”. Going forward he believes this will help differentiate them from their competitors such as Telegram and Signal who are gaining traction due to their strong commitment to user privacy protection. 

Traceability Debate in India 

There is also an ongoing debate about the traceability of messages in India where some government officials have pushed for improved methods of tracing malicious content sent via messaging apps such as WhatsApp – something which many believe could threaten user privacy if implemented without proper safeguards measures in place.

When asked about his opinion on this matter, Will Cathcart noted that while security and safety are important topics it’s also critical not to compromise individual user privacy or break encryption which is two core principles at WhatsApp: “If you’re talking about breaking encryption it’s really hard for me to imagine being comfortable with it” he said adding: “We need better methods for combating malicious content but they must also respect individuals’ rights”.  


Overall it seems clear that while there are still some major challenges ahead facing both Apple and Facebook when it comes to tech privacy issues, there is hope yet when it comes to ensuring online safety while maintaining user rights something which both companies seem committed to achieving through initiatives such as Whatsapp’s new privacy policy and efforts from government officials around traceability discussions in India.

Q&A: Will Cathcart of WhatsApp on Facebook-Apple Feud, Privacy Policy, Competing Apps, and Message Traceability in India (Alex Kantrowitz/OneZero)

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