If you are on social media or use the internet at all, you must be aware of the whole fuss going about WhatsApp’s privacy policy update. Well, there is a big development. WhatsApp has delayed the privacy changes and has also denied the rumors.

What rumours, what privacy changes and what delay?

If you don’t understand this at all; don’t worry. we’ll first brief you on what has been going on.

WhatsApp Delayed Privacy Changes

WhatsApp which started as messaging software in 2009, developed many features over time. It now facilitates audio & video calling, multimedia sharing, and group chatting, audio & video calling. This app has the most of its users in India followed by countries Brazil, the United States, Indonesia, Mexico, and so on.

The messenger giant recently issued an in-app notification that shook the digital world. According to the announcement, WhatsApp is going to update its terms and privacy policy. This gave birth to a big controversy that’s been swaying the internet for the last 10 days. As unexpected aftermath, WhatsApp saw itself losing users to its competitors like Signal, Telegram, etc.

In the wake of controlling the situation, WhatsApp has extended the deadline for accepting its updated privacy policies. Moreover, it has also taken to its company blog to shut down what it calls ‘rumors’.

Here’s all what we know.

The rumor

source: Twitter

The ‘rumor’ as WhatsApp is calling it is that this messaging software company, along with its parent company Facebook, is going to share the personal data of its users with third-party businesses and service providers. Well, that sure sounds bad. Doesn’t it?

As a result, the word is that WhatsApp, just like Facebook is focused on money-making. It doesn’t care about people’s privacy and is set out to monetize their personal data. And thus, it is not safe.

In fact, its parent company Facebook had been caught in a big scandal a few years back which is popularly known as the Cambridge Analytica scandal. According to it, Facebook was blamed to have obtained personal data from about 87 million profiles without their consent.

Well, to have a parent company with such a record, does make WhatsApp quite difficult to trust. Especially so, after it has rolled out such updates.

But according to WhatsApp, these are just ‘rumors’ that are being spread about its privacy policy update. So, what exactly do the new terms say—according to WhatsApp?

The privacy changes

WhatsApp divides this into two parts.

What’s not changing?

According to WhatsApp, it is not going to change the privacy and security of personal messages and calls. They continue to be protected by end-to-end encryption. Hence, neither WhatsApp nor Facebook will be able to read or listen to them.

What’s changing?

Contrary to the talks that have been going around, WhatsApp says that its privacy policy update is aimed to “make communicating with a business secure, better, and easier for everyone.”

This includes:

  • Enabling customer service: WhatsApp intends to make “it easier to chat with businesses who may use Facebook business products.”
  • Discovering a business: Just like you start seeing similar ads on Facebook after you click on a particular ad. WhatsApp intends to do something similar. However, it (and neither Facebook) can see the content of any of your messages since they are end-to-end encrypted.
  • Shopping experiences: This allows you to see a business’s products on Facebook and Instagram and shop from them directly on WhatsApp.

Moreover, WhatsApp says that “the recent terms and privacy policy update do not affect personal messages. The changes are related to optional business features on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how [WhatsApp] collect and use data.”

So, the move was taken to improve consumer experience along with helping businesses in digital marketing. Well, this is what can be ascertained from WhatsApp’s statements.

The delay

As the notification read, this privacy policy and terms update were to come into effect from the 8th of February 2021. Upon failing to accept the new terms, the users were supposed to have their WhatsApp accounts terminated after the given date. However, there is a big development in this regard.

Initially, WhatsApp gave its users about a month to understand and accept (or reject) its updated privacy policy and terms. However, it has now extended the deadline.

Seemingly, this was done as damage control. Looking at the controversy that has been created, WhatsApp has decided to delay its privacy changes. In its own words:

“We’re now moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms. No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8.”

It also said it will

“go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15″

So, this means that nobody gets their WhatsApp account suspended on the 8th Feb. You have three months to think this through and then take your decision.

Why the delay?

As WhatsApp has taken to its blog post, the deadline for accepting (or rejecting) its privacy policy and terms update has been extended so it can take time to clear the air.

This is what it exactly stated:

“We’ve heard from so many people how much confusion there is around our recent update. There’s been a lot of misinformation causing concern and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts.”

But anyway, what’s done is done. Most of the damage is irreparable now. A large number of people have already uninstalled WhatsApp and have deleted their accounts. Moreover, the market share for its alternative apps like Signal and Telegram has suddenly skyrocketed.

And it’s usually like that, if you lose a customer, it’s mostly gone for good.

What’s more?

WhatsApp has most of its user base in India, followed by Brazil, the United States, Indonesia, and so. Well naturally, this new change is going to affect the digital communication system of such countries. Moreover, many businesses based in these countries use WhatsApp Business (a version specially tailored to cater to small businesses). Hence, it is also going to influence the digital marketing system of small and medium businesses in such countries.

However, this all is still fresh. We’d need to wait a bit more to see how this is going to pan out. Will extending the privacy review deadline work in WhatsApp’s favor? Will the lost users come back? Well, time will tell.

Final word

WhatsApp sent an in-app notification to its users worldwide on 6th January 2021 informing users about its privacy policy update and asking them to review it. This caused a lot of controversy in the digital world. People saw it as an attempt to compromise people’s privacy in order to make money. Looking at how the decision is being received, WhatsApp has decided to extend the deadline for reviewing and accepting (or rejecting) the changes. So now, your account won’t be suspended on the 8th of Feb. You can now review the changes by May 15. WhatsApp says that it is doing so to clear the air and shut down rumors.

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Somya Sharma : Regardless of being a Delhi University graduate with a major in English Literature, Somya's interests are not limited to poetry and drama. As a person who loves researching, discussing and writing about topics rooted in various disciplines, the list of subjects that tickle her fancy is ever-growing. She finds the power of psychology in marketing particularly intriguing and has set out writing blogs with the aim of helping budding marketers polish-up.