WHATSAPP has made a U-turn on its decision to thrust controversial new terms on users next month.
Following fierce criticism online, the Facebook-owned app has pushed back the deadline that users must accept the policy change to May.
WhatsApp has made a U-turn on its decision to thrust controversial new terms on users by February 8Credit: AFP or licensors
That sparked global outcries and a rush of new users to competitor private messaging apps including Telegram and Signal.
Users had expressed concern that the alterations to WhatsApp’s terms of service put their personal data at risk.
Some claimed that the new rules give Facebook permission to read your private messages. WhatsApp strongly denies the accusations.
WhatsApp last week released the infographic above to highlight the protections it guarantees usersCredit: whatsapp
WhatsApp on Friday said it would delay the new policy launch to May 15 from February 8.
The California company stressed that the update was focused on allowing users to message with businesses, and that the update does not affect personal conversations, which will continue to have end-to-end encryption.
“This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook,” it said in a statement.
“While not everyone shops with a business on WhatsApp today, we think that more people will choose to do so in the future and its important people are aware of these services.”
Facebook has been rolling out business tools on WhatsApp over the past year as it moves to boost revenue from the app.
Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19billion in 2014 and is still on the hunt for effective ways to make money off of it.
WhatsApp has stressed that it is still focussed on privacy as disgruntled users flock to rival services including Signal and TelegramCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The app already shares certain categories of personal data, including the user’s phone number and IP address, with Facebook.
“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 said.
WhatsApp said in October that it would start to offer in-app purchases via Facebook Shops and would offer firms who use its customer service messaging tools the ability to store those messages on Facebook servers.
WhatsApp said at the time that chats with a business using the new hosting service would not be protected by the app’s end-to-end encryption.
Following the recent update, millions of WhatsApp users have jumped ship to rival apps Signal and Telegram in the past week citing fears over their privacy, according to data analytics firm Sensor Tower.
Encrypted chat app Signal said surging downloads caused its servers to crash last Thursday. Downloads of WhatsApp reportedly dropped 11 per cent in the first week of 2021, compared with the prior week.
WhatsApp – a quick history
Here’s what you need to know…
- WhatsApp was created in 2009 by computer programmers Brian Acton and Jan Koum – former employees of Yahoo
- It’s one of the most popular messaging services in the world
- Koum came up with the name WhatsApp because it sounded like “what’s up”
- After a number of tweaks the app was released with a messaging component in June 2009, with 250,000 active users
- It was originally free but switched to a paid service to avoid growing too fast. Then in 2016, it became free again for all users
- Facebook bought WhatsApp Inc in February 2014 for $19.3billion (£14.64bn)
- The app is particularly popular because all messages are encrypted during transit, shutting out snoopers
- As of 2020, WhatsApp has over 2billion users globally
Adam Mosseri, who heads Instagram – which is also owned by Facebook – backed his employer amid the backlash.
He wrote in a tweet that there was “a lot of misinformation” about the updated terms.
But privacy advocates have questioned the move, citing Facebook’s murky track record in handling user data.
“Every time a company combines data from multiple sources, multiple platforms, it raises privacy concerns because it increases the possibility that people can be identified, that a company knows more about you,” said Dr Anatoliy Gruzd, a digital privacy expert at Ryerson University in Canada.
“WhatsApp users are concerned about the increased integration with Facebook.”
In other news, droves of people are reportedly ditching WhatsApp for rival apps Signal and Telegram.
Here’s everything you need to know about Signal, which reported thousands of new users this week.
And, a bizarre bug reported this month could have let strangers read your private WhatsApp chats.
What do you make of WhatsApp’s policy changes? Let us know in the comments!
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