16:40 GMT26 January 2021
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    Turkish WhatsApp users reportedly starting switching to alternative instant messaging apps in the wake of the Facebook messenger rolling out new privacy rules that allow the parent company to have access to users' personal data.

    The Turkish Competition Board has initiated an investigation into Facebook and its instant messaging service WhatsApp. The probe is related to the app's updated privacy rules, which users are obliged to accept should they want to continue using the service. The board will be probing the new privacy policy for possible violations of the country's competition laws over Facebook's increased interest in collecting users' private data.

    The new rules, if accepted, allow Facebook to collect and use users' private data, such as their location and phone numbers. The company claims it is going to use the data to study its clients' habits and tastes, and will only share the information within its ecosystem of applications.

    The Competition Board ordered Facebook to rescind the requirement to accept the new policy during the probe.

    Following the backlash from users, Facebook decided to make an exception, but only for the "Europe Region". The said region only included EU countries, prompting Turkish citizens to switch to other messaging services, such as BiP, Dedi, Signal, and Telegram. The users shared their intention to replace the popular messaging app on Twitter, accompanying it with the #WhatsAppSiliyoruz (#DeletingWhatsApp) hashtag.

    The tech giant Facebook introduced new policy rules despite landing in hot water in 2016 over the leak of users' data and the use of it with the intent to affect their electoral choice in elections. The data on 87 million Facebook users was gathered by the notorious and now-defunct political consulting company Cambridge Analytica, who used it to determine which voters could be swayed in favour of certain candidates and how. CA was hired to help the Leave campaign ahead of the Brexit referendum and by Republicans during the 2016 electoral cycle.

    The scandal erupted once the public became aware that Cambridge Analytica used Facebook-collected data on people to purportedly affect the election outcome. Facebook later became the subject of several congressional probes and scrutiny over its handling of personal data.

    The company also faced calls to be broken down into separate parts. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 48 states filed anti-trust lawsuits in December 2020 seeking to divide the company's assets, namely the photo-sharing app Instagram and WhatsApp messenger. The lawsuits also seek to prohibit Facebook from stifling competition and demanding to ban the company from making more mergers worth over $10 million for the duration of the case.

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    probe, Turkey, WhatsApp, Facebook
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