WhatsApp clarifies privacy changes and Facebook data sharing as Signal and Telegram soar

WhatsApp is attempting to clarify changes to its privacy policy after immense backlash. The Facebook-owned messaging service has published a new FAQ page to its website, saying that the changes going into effect on February 8 only affect businesses who use WhatsApp, not individual users.

Last week, a report suggested that WhatsApp would share user data with Facebook, without giving users a choice. In 2016, WhatsApp began sharing data with Facebook by default, but users still had the ability to opt out. The reports were based on changes WhatsApp had made to its privacy policy.

According to WhatsApp, this change actually doesn’t affect user messaging. Instead, it includes changes related to when you message a business using WhatsApp — something the company points out is completely optional.

We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.

WhatsApp goes on to explain:

Messaging with businesses is different than messaging with your family or friends. Some large businesses need to use hosting services to manage their communication. Which is why we’re giving businesses the option to use secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions, and send helpful information like purchase receipts.

Ultimately, this means that communication on WhatsApp between friends and family should be unaffected by the privacy changes going into effect on February 8. For WhatsApp, however, some damage might already be done in terms of the competition.

Since the WhatsApp privacy policy changes were reported last week, Signal has seen an immense amount of growth. New data from Appfigures indicates that between Thursday and Sunday, Signal added a whopping 4.6 million new users.

Signal also received an endorsement from Elon Musk, which caused another spike in downloads for the messaging app (and caused an unrelated stock to soar by over 11,000%).

Furthermore, Appfigures data shows that Telegram added over 5 million new users in the days following WhatsApp privacy concerns.

WhatsApp privacy wrap-up

What do you think of WhatsApp’s changes to its privacy policy? Are you still going to look for alternatives or will you stick with WhatsApp for the time being? Let us know down in the comments!

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