WhatsApp to wean users into inevitable privacy policy change

JC Torres - Feb 18, 2021, 6:56pm CST
WhatsApp to wean users into inevitable privacy policy change

Facebook isn’t one to back down from a fight or making controversial changes, at least until its hands are forced by laws. Even as it faces inquiries and lawsuits about its alleged monopolistic business practices, it is still pushing through with unpopular actions that practically put its mark on everything it owns. The Oculus Quest’s new multi-user support, for example, is still tied to Facebook accounts, and WhatsApp is now resuming the journey to revamp its privacy policy to favor Facebook.

WhatsApp started the year with a bang when it announced changes to its privacy policy that, in a nutshell, requires users to consent to allow Facebook to get access to some bits of user information. Given Facebook’s track record when it comes to privacy, users were naturally up in arms and the service saw a massive exodus as users tried to quickly migrate to the likes of Telegram and Signal. There was no way around the change and users either had to agree to it or be unable to use the service altogether.

WhatsApp eventually decided to delay that change that would have taken effect earlier this month. That, however, didn’t mean it was going to change its mind and its latest blog post confirms that. The changes will still take effect on May 15 and the company will be using the coming weeks to subtly remind users about these changes and prepare them for the inevitable.

The popular messaging service will start displaying banners inside chats that will remind users that chats are end-to-end encrypted, meaning WhatsApp can’t listen in or read messages. The banner, however, doesn’t mention anything about the privacy policy change that involves Facebook and simply invites users to tap on the banner to learn more. Chances are, users will probably ignore those anyway.

WhatsApp also took the opportunity to take a jab at its competitors that were quick to offer a way out for its disgruntled users. It notes that some of these don’t offer end-to-end encryption like it does, at least not by default, though some of those do. It further explains that it believes users want not only a safe but also reliable service, even if the latter means giving WhatsApp and Facebook some data. Some WhatsApp users, however, might beg to differ.


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