Facebook’s WhatsApp Delays Privacy Change over ‘Confusion’ and Backlash

Mark Zuckerberg Smiles discussing Facebook
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The messaging service WhatsApp has reportedly delayed an upcoming privacy change that it claims caused “confusion” amongst users who believe that the app would be sharing more data, including their messages, with parent company Facebook.

CNBC reports that WhatsApp has delayed a new privacy policy update that caused many users to worry that their data and messages could be shared with Facebook. In a blog post over the weekend, WhatsApp stated: “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.”

Breitbart News recently reported that WhatsApp downloads fell by more than 2 million between January 5 and 12 compared to the previous week, falling to 10.6 million. In comparison, Signal saw 17.8 million downloads while Telegram saw 15.7 million during the same time period, according to data from the app analytics firm Sensor Tower.

A recent pop-up message sent to WhatsApp’s 2 billion users asked them to accept the Terms of Service for the app’s new privacy policy before February 8 or they may lose access to the app. Users outside of the U.K. and Europe are now subject to a data-sharing agreement between WhatsApp and Facebook which will see private user details such as phone number, IP address, and browser information shared with the tech giant.

The mass user exodus panicked Facebook, prompting the company to take out full-page adverts in India’s newspapers asking users not to leave. In a message appearing on the front page of the Indian Express and the Hindu, as well as in eight other newspapers, WhatsApp stated:

WhatsApp respects and protects your privacy.

WhatsApp cannot see your private messages or hear your calls, and neither can Facebook: Every private message, photo, video, voice message, and document you send to your friends, family, and co-workers in one-on-one or group chats is protected by end-to-end encryption. It stays between you.

The updates reportedly related specifically to features that allow users to message and interact with businesses on WhatsApp. Facebook announced last year that businesses using WhatsApp could store and manage their chats with customers using Facebook’s “secure hosting infrastructure.”

As a result, a business can see the contents of the message between it and a user and may use that info for marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook.

Many users worried that the updated privacy policy implied that WhatsApp would share the content of messages with Facebook, but WhatsApp insists messages are encrypted and not viewable by WhatsApp or Facebook.

Read more at CNBC here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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