WhatsApp delays privacy policy change that led to confusion about Facebook data sharing

WhatsApp has announced that it is delaying a controversial and confusing change to its privacy policy. A new WhatsApp privacy policy was slated to go into effect in February, but the Facebook-owned company now says it will delay the change for three months.

“There’s been a lot of misinformation causing concern and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts,” the company writes in the blog post.

As background, in 2016, WhatsApp began sharing data with Facebook by default, but users still had the ability to opt out. Last week, a report based on privacy policy changes suggested that WhatsApp would begin sharing user data with Facebook on February 8, without giving users a choice.

WhatsApp attempted to clarify these changes, saying earlier this week that the privacy policy changes would only affect businesses who use WhatsApp, not individual users.

In a blog post, WhatsApp explains that it has heard from users about “how much confusion there is around our recent update.” As such, it is delaying the rollout of its new privacy policy:

We’re now moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms. No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8. We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15.

WhatsApp also doubles down on the fact its focus on user privacy and security is not changing with these privacy policy updates:

WhatsApp was built on a simple idea: what you share with your friends and family stays between you. This means we will always protect your personal conversations with end-to-end encryption, so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see these private messages. It’s why we don’t keep logs of who everyone’s messaging or calling. We also can’t see your shared location and we don’t share your contacts with Facebook.

With these updates, none of that is changing. Instead, the update includes new options people will have to message a business on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data. While not everyone shops with a business on WhatsApp today, we think that more people will choose to do so in the future and it’s important people are aware of these services. This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook.

WhatsApp change and attempted clarification come after competing applications such as Signal and Telegram have seen immense growth in popularity as users look for alternative messaging apps with end-to-end encryption.

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