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If you delve into your account settings on WhatsApp, you’ll see an intriguing option called “request account info”. If you choose to have it sent to you, you’ll see a warning that it can take up to three days for WhatsApp to dredge the data from its servers, suggesting you’re going to be sent a mammoth file.
So what exactly is in this dossier that WhatsApp takes days to send to you? Prepare to be underwhelmed.
How to request your WhatsApp account info
First, let’s explain how to request your account information, should you wish to do this yourself.
In the Android version of the app, click on the three dots in the top right of the main screen and select Settings. Then tap Account and you should find “Request account info” among the options on that page.
Follow the instructions on the next page to get your report and then go off on a short break to Amsterdam while WhatsApp does its thing.
What’s in the WhatsApp account info report?
You’ll get a WhatsApp notification when your report is ready to review. True enough, mine took three days to arrive.
Rather unhelpfully, the report arrives as a Zip file, which aren’t particularly easy to open or view on an Android smartphone. You’re probably better off downloading the file and then emailing it to yourself to open on a computer.
When you get the report, you’ll wonder what took them three days. WhatsApp explains from the start that you won’t get any of the content of your messages in the info folder. Instead, you get something that looks like this (I’ve obviously blurred my own information):
(I really must change that awful profile pic.)
Beneath the data you can see here, WhatsApp also lists the phone number of each of your WhatsApp contacts (but not their names) and the names of any WhatsApp groups you’ve ever been a member of, past or present.
Beyond that, the data is very dull. There are logs of when you accepted WhatsApp’s Ts&Cs, some technical details of your phone and a list of any numbers you’ve blocked on WhatsApp.
Make no mistake, this isn’t data you’d want falling into the wrong hands. At the very least, a list of all your contacts’ phone numbers could be used for phishing attacks or worse.
This is also the kind of information that the police and security services might demand of WhatsApp if you were being investigated, and so it’s interesting to see what they would be able to hand over. Conversations, if WhatsApp is to be believed, are protected by end-to-end encryption, so the company wouldn’t have access to those.
However, there really is not much of interest here for you as a user.
What bemuses me most is why it takes three days to produce this stuff. It’s not exactly weighty…
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