WhatsApp’s Privacy Policy Update Postponed till May 15

WhatsApp has kept its privacy policy update pending, following the criticisms it faced over what specific data it shares with its parent company, Facebook. Last month, WhatsApp sent out notifications to billions of users, informing them of the company’s updated terms of service, which they must agree to in order to continue using the service. The deadline for agreeing to this new TOS was dated February 8.

There was a particular section of the policy that caused fears and apprehension among users of the service. This section specifically dealt with the type of user data collected and shared with Facebook — a company notorious for the way and manner it had handled user privacy and data over the years. The section in question was ambiguous, raising concerns among users.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk tweeted on January 7, “Use Signal,” and it seemed WhatsApp users heeded his call, with many switching to the platform and others threatening to do so.

Now, the WhatsApp privacy update won’t be up until May 15. In a blog post that the company made on Friday, WhatsApp admitted that there had been so much confusion surrounding its recent update. The social media messaging service said there had been a lot of misinformation flying around. WhatsApp said it wants to relieve the fears and concerns of users by helping to separate facts from speculations.

According to WhatsApp privacy policy, the company states that every user data that it collects may be shared with other Facebook companies in order to “help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our services and their offerings.”

Speaking with CNN, WhatsApp explained that this practice of data sharing with other Facebook companies had been there all this while. WhatsApp pointed out that its messaging app uses end-to-end encryption, meaning that it cannot view the private messages of users, neither can Facebook. WhatsApp said it also could not see the call logs of users or who exactly they’re messaging, neither can it see a person’s shared location, CNN reports.

WhatsApp last updated its privacy policy in 2016. At that time, users had the ability to decline the sharing of their data with Facebook. In this new update, users are not offered such luxury. However, users that opted to have their data shared by Facebook in 2016 would not be affected by the new update.

The recent update will primarily affect users communicating with businesses on WhatsApp. These users can choose to store their conversations on Facebook cloud services.

WhatsApp said its upcoming update would not change its data-sharing practices with Facebook and the privacy of users communicating with friends and family. A spokesperson for the company assured users that WhatsApp remained committed to protecting the privacy of its users.

Source: reuters.com