The thousands of estate agents who use the free version of WhatsApp on their smartphones to communicate with customers are exposing themselves to prosecution by Whatsapp and could face action by regulators over GDPR and privacy laws, it has been claimed.
The use of WhatsApp within the sales and lettings industry is now widespread, but many agencies from small independents to large corporates often have no idea their staff are breaching the conditions of WhatsApp’s T&Cs.
Most estate agents assume that the hugely popular free version of he app, which for example some 80% of people aged between 18 and 44 years old use on their personal smartphones to message friends and family, can be used for business.
But the Facebook-owned platform has, since December, brought in new terms that say people who use it for ‘non-personal’ use could be sued.
At the same time WhatsApp is encouraging business users to sign up to its paid-for ‘for business service’.
Paul Gandar (left), whose company Stitch enables agents to comply with WhatsApp’s new rules as well as be GDPR and privacy law compliant, says thousands of agencies across the UK are unaware of the new requirements.
He says agents are either oblivious to the changes, turning a blind eye to employees using their personal WhatsApp for business purposes or, in some extreme cases, hacking the service to avoid the extra costs.
Gandar – whose company has already rolled out its service to several big-name agencies in London, has signed up PR company Proptech-PR.com and will soon have an app live on Reapit’s Foundations platform – also warns agents that even if they are using the ‘for business’ version they cannot use the tool to prospect for instructions.