The changes have caused concern among some users that more information would be shared with WhatsApp’s parent company, Facebook. WhatsApp have denied this, saying that the policy is focused on its new business updates, which allow companies to host their shops on Facebook and speak to customers through the messaging service.
Due to what WhatsApp have called “misinformation” around the update, they have decided to postpone the policy for three months.
Here we dig into what the policy means and why a number of people have been concerned about its changes.
What’s up with WhatsApp’s new policy?
According to the company, they currently support more than 175m people who manage a business daily. The updates are designed to improve customer service communications, help customers discover relevant businesses and streamline the overall shopping experience. These changes will see more synergy between WhatsApp and Facebook.
This increased sharing of information is the key concern for sceptics. They have said that the new policy didn’t seem to offer any way to opt-out of the data-sharing policy, which left many wondering about the privacy of chats, calls and media shared over the platform. As a result, many former WhatsApp users have started to turn away from the platform and towards other alternatives – such as Signal and Telegram.
This includes outspoken technologist Elon Musk, who on January 7 2021, tweeted “Use Signal” to his millions of followers. Tracking firm Apptopia noted that the Signal app was downloaded 1.3 million times on Monday January 11, marking a significant uptick following Musk’s tweet. As of 24 January, WhatsApp has lost “millions of users” following the terms update.
WhatsApp have explicitly stated that the policy will not change the privacy and security of personal messages and calls on the platform. They reinforced this by saying “They are protected by end-to-end encryption, and WhatsApp and Facebook cannot read or listen to them.”
The company has now delayed the implementation of its new policy to 15 May as it attempts to explain the changes more fully to users.