WhatsApp delays privacy policy update amid rising objection

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp is reportedly delaying a proposed update aimed at increasing business transactions through the platform amid rising concerns over the messaging platform’s new privacy policy.

Earlier this month, WhatsApp users received a notification stating that the messaging application is working on a new privacy policy and terms and it reserved the right to share some user data with Facebook. This sparked objection from users across the globe and a rush of new users to competitor private messaging apps including Telegram and Signal.

In light of the rising concerns at the global level, last day Whatsapp declared that it would delay the new policy launch to May from February and affirmed that the update only aimed at enabling users to message with businesses and it does not affect personal conversations, which will continue to have end-to-end encryption.

“This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook. 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 is important people are aware of these services,” Whatsapp said in a statement.

Over the past years, the social media giant has been launching new business tools on the messaging platform following its move to increase revenue from higher-growth units like WhatsApp and Instagram while building an eCommerce infrastructure across the company.

In 2014, Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion but has been slow to monetize it. But the user growth in the messaging platform attracted Facebook towards it.  In 2014, over 500 million people used WhatsApp monthly and the service added more than 1 million users per day. 

“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,” it said. The messaging app already shares certain categories of personal data, including the user’s phone number and IP address, with Facebook.

In October, WhatsApp said that it would launch in-app purchases via Facebook Shops and would offer firms who use its customer service messaging tools the ability to store those messages on Facebook servers. At that time the app said that chats with a business using the new hosting service would not be protected by its end-to-end encryption.