WhatsApp delays new privacy policy roll out

Yesterday, WhatsApp announced a three-month delay to its new privacy policy which was slated to go into effect on 8th February 2021 following widespread confusion over whether the new policy would mandate data sharing with Facebook. In the last few days, WhatsApp has repeatedly clarified that the update does not really affect data sharing with Facebook with regard to personal profile information.  The update addresses business chats when a user converses with a company’s customer service platform through WhatsApp.

Today, the company wrote in a new blog post “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.”

As per reports, from 2016 onwards, WhatsApp has shared certain information with Facebook, including your phone number unless you were one of the select few users who chose to opt-out of data sharing. However, WhatsApp does not look at people’s chat messages or listen to their phone calls, and they are end to end encrypted.

A few days ago, a pop up in WhatsApp informed users about the new update and included an ultimatum instructing users to delete their account if they chose not to agree to the new terms. This spiked the confusion.

Last week, the company released a separate blog trying to clear the confusion. Media reports highlighted the aggressive pop-up and misinformation spread fast on social media resulting in a surge in sign-ups for messaging apps like Signal and Telegram.

Lately, Facebook executives joined Instagram chief Adam Mosseri and WhatsApp head Will Cathcart to clear the confusion through Twitter posts. The problem is Facebook has a poor privacy track record and lately, WhatsApp has started sighting on monetizing the platform.

WhatsApp said “We’re now moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms. This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook. We are also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security work on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15.”