07/27/2021

WhatsApp Reverses Decision to Limit Functionality Over New Privacy Policy

WhatsApp has announced that users who do not accept its controversial privacy policy before the May 15 deadline will not have their accounts deleted or lose functionality of the app.

The latest announcement, which came at the end of May, is a reversal of a decision by WhatsApp to limit functionality for users who had not accepted the policy. Users were also told that they would get persistent reminders to accept it. The Facebook-owned platform had been heavily urging users to accept the policy, resulting in much backlash and skepticism on why the update was so necessary. 

“Considering the majority of users who have seen the update have accepted, we’ll continue to display a notification in WhatsApp providing more information about the update and reminding those who haven’t had a chance to do so to review and accept. We currently have no plans for these reminders to become persistent and to limit the functionality of the app,” WhatsApp said.

The messaging app also said that when a new user registers for WhatsApp, they will be given the option to accept the update. 

Limited functionality

Before the announcement, WhatsApp had different plans for users who did not accept the policy change before the May 15 deadline. If users did not accept the changes following the persistent reminders, WhatsApp said that they would initially not be able to access their chat lists, but would still be able to answer incoming phone and video calls. 

After a few weeks of limited functionality and constant reminders, people wouldn’t be able to receive incoming calls or notifications and WhatsApp said it would stop sending messages and calls to their phone.

In the latest update to these policies, WhatsApp clarified some of the concerns people have about data-sharing with Facebook. “Your personal conversations are still protected by end-to-end encryption, which means no one outside of your chats, not even WhatsApp or Facebook, can read or listen to them,” it said.

The two main changes WhatsApp said it will make are:

  1. Talking to businesses more conveniently as compared to calls or email. Users would have the choice to block or remove businesses from their contact lists if they do decide to chat with businesses at all. The company said these businesses may use Facebook as a technology provider to manage some of the responses on their behalf. The chats will be clearly labelled to make users aware of when that happens.
  2. Providing more detail on how WhatsApp manages user data. The company said it added more detail to certain sections of its Privacy Policy and added new sections, as well as simplifying the layout to make it easier for users to navigate.

The first update means that businesses using secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers may use some user information for its own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook. Users may also see an ad on Facebook with an option to message a business using WhatsApp. Facebook may use the way people interact with these ads to personalize the ads they see on Facebook.

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