WhatsApp delays new privacy policy following widespread backlash

WhatsApp delays new privacy policy following widespread backlash

WhatsApp has announced that they are delaying their privacy update following widespread criticism and confusion about what data would be shared with parent company Facebook. The new privacy policy will now come into place on May 15 instead of February 8.


Early in January, Facebook-owned messaging service app WhatsApp announced a new privacy policy that would allow WhatsApp to share certain user information with other Facebook companies. Users previously had until February 8 to agree to the new privacy policy if they wanted to continue to use their WhatsApp accounts. The deadline has since been extended to May 15 after serious backlash from users and privacy enthusiasts. The new changes to the privacy policy do not apply to countries in Europe due to strict GDPR rules that are in place.

There was much confusion about whether WhatsApp will be able to share certain account information (phone numbers, transaction data, mobile device information, IP addresses, service-related information, etc.) with other Facebook companies once the new privacy policy comes into place. However, what users may not realize is that WhatsApp has been sharing data with Facebook long before this and the new policy is not that different in this regard.

Unsurprisingly, the new update has caught the attention of both privacy enthusiasts and WhatsApp users. Users will not be able to opt out of this data sharing, and their accounts will be disabled if they do not agree to the changes. The backlash following the news has forced the messaging service to extend the deadline to May 15.

The company has also started addressing users’ worries, particularly the concerns that WhatsApp will share messages, location and contact information with Facebook and other Facebook-owned companies. A Twitter statement and a blog post have been released in order to clear up the confusion.

In both statements, WhatsApp explains that:

  • it cannot see private messages or hear calls (neither can Facebook);
  • no logs of who users are calling or messaging are kept;
  • users’ contact information is not shared with Facebook;
  • users’ shared location is not visible to WhatsApp or Facebook;
  • WhatsApp groups will remain private;
  • users will still be able to download their data.

According to WhatsApp, the new privacy policy primarily addresses business chats when users message with a company via the messaging service.

“The update includes new options people will have to message a business on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data. While not everyone shops with a business on WhatsApp today, we think that more people will choose to do so in the future and it’s important people are aware of these services. This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook,” the blog post explains.

WhatsApp addressed users’ concerns on Twitter

“WhatsApp was built on a simple idea: what you share with your friends and family stays between you. This means we will always protect your personal conversations with end-to-end encryption, so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see these private messages. It’s why we don’t keep logs of who everyone’s messaging or calling. We also can’t see your shared location and we don’t share your contacts with Facebook,” WhatsApp said in its blog post.

The new WhatsApp privacy update and the backlash that followed has caused an increase is users switching to more privacy oriented messaging services like Signal and Telegram. It’s not surprising that users are switching, as Facebook has a very poor track record when it comes to its users’ privacy. However, this new privacy policy is not much different from what was already in place. For example, unless you were able to opt out of this early on, your phone number has been shared with Facebook since 2016.

WhatsApp will likely continue to address the changes to familiarize users with what will happen on May 15. If users choose to not agree to the changes, their accounts will be terminated.

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