This is how WhatsApp will squeeze new privacy policy hold-outs

Chris Davies - Feb 21, 2021, 7:25am CST
This is how WhatsApp will squeeze new privacy policy hold-outs

WhatsApp users who don’t accept the company’s controversial upcoming privacy policy will steadily lose functionality over a few weeks, as the Facebook-owned messaging platform squeezes them into agreeing with the new rules. Announced last month, the new privacy terms met with near-instant backlash, as they appeared to allow WhatsApp to share user data with other Facebook products and services.

That led to an outflow of WhatsApp users hunting for a different messaging platform. The company pushed back with clarifications of just what the new terms mean, in an attempt to clear up the confusion.

In a blog post last week WhatsApp said that opting into the privacy changes will be done at users’ “own pace” rather than forced in a single day. Nonetheless, there’s a deadline of May 15. Beyond that, it’s only now that details of just what the app experience will be for policy holdouts have emerged.

WhatsApp will “slowly ask” those users to comply, according to an email sent to a merchant partner of the company seen by TechCrunch, from May 15 on. Beyond that, for those who still don’t agree to the new policy, “for a short time, these users will be able to receive calls and notifications, but will not be able to read or send messages from the app” it’s explained.

WhatsApp has confirmed the details, and published a new FAQ explaining the process. That also confirms that WhatsApp’s policy for inactive users will apply to those accounts, which sees them “generally deleted after 120 days of inactivity,” where “inactivity means the user hasn’t connected to WhatsApp.”

According to the company, the change is prompted not by a desire to share personal data but for reasons of e-commerce, as Facebook attempts to better monetize the platform much as it has done with Facebook Messenger and Instagram in recent years. If you’re using WhatsApp to communicate with businesses, for example, the new terms will cover things like personalized adverts shown, and what companies you message can do with that data.

Users will apparently be shown new messages within WhatsApp further detailing the changes involved. The company points out that chats are still end-to-end encrypted, that neither it nor Facebook can see shared locations, and that WhatsApp does not share a users’ contacts with Facebook. Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can read messages sent through the service, or listen in on calls.


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