As WhatsApp deals with the repercussions of their latest data-sharing update, which was negatively received by the public, it extended the deadline for users to accept the changes and further explained that privacy wasn’t being compromised.
On Wednesday (Jan 6), one of the most popular messaging platforms, WhatsApp, announced to its users it would be changing its terms of service in a way that indicated forcing users to share personal data with Facebook, its parent company.
The update sparked backlash, with millions switching platforms to competitors such as Telegram and Signal.
Members of the public heavily scrutinised what the upcoming update meant, given users only had until Feb 8 to decide, or risk losing access to the app. TechCrunch editor Mike Butcher took to Twitter to explain that the changes would enable WhatsApp to “share its users’ personal information, including phone numbers, IP addresses, contacts, and more with Facebook.”
WhatsApp will share its users' personal information, including phone numbers, IP addresses, contacts, & more with Facebook from Feb. 8, according to the new T&Cs. No opt-out. The only way to object is to leave the service & move to a service like Signal or Telegram. https://t.co/FbGcq5T3JB
— Mike Butcher (@mikebutcher) January 6, 2021
In response to the uproar, WhatsApp released a new FAQ page on its website, outlining its user privacy stance. “We want to address some rumors and be 100% clear we continue to protect your private messages with end-to-end encryption,” it said.
As the scrutiny continued, the messaging app released another announcement on Friday (Jan 15) on its blog, informing the public they were being offered more time to accept the changes.
“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,” said WhatsApp.
“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.”
It noted none of those concerns was changing with the new update. Instead, the changes include new options for people to message a business on WhatsApp, “providing further transparency about how we collect and use data.”
The conversations between businesses and clients are seen by WhatsApp, which then uses that information for marketing, including Facebook advertisements.
Furthermore, the shopping activity of those who interact with Facebook’s Shops commerce feature through WhatsApp could be accessed to display related ads on Facebook and Instagram.
However, WhatsApp said this feature is optional. When it is used, “we will tell you in the app how your data is being shared with Facebook.”
“This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook.”
To give users more time to review and accept the terms, WhatsApp is pushing back the deadline to May 15. “We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security work on WhatsApp.”
“WhatsApp helped bring end-to-end encryption to people across the world, and we are committed to defending this security technology now and in the future.”
Send in your scoop to email@example.com