SAN FRANCISCO – WhatsApp said on Friday that it will delay a planned privacy update, as Facebook-owned messaging service tries to stop the wave of migration of users worried about change.
WhatsApp said it will roll back the changes to May 15 from Feb. 8, so that users have more time to consider what they plan to do.
This month, WhatsApp announced to users that it will offer them new options for texting businesses using the service and is updating its privacy statements. WhatsApp’s notice says users will either have to accept the new terms before February or no longer have access to their account. Although there are actually a few changes, the company still needs user approval.
Many users and some media have interpreted this announcement as a stark change in WhatsApp’s data-sharing practices, given the mistaken belief that the company can now read people’s chats and other personal data. Misinformation spread through the service, reaching users all over the world.
Millions of people have flocked to other messaging services, including apps like Signal – which offer so-called end-to-end encryption like WhatsApp – and Telegram, which offer several encryption options. Earlier this week, Signal became the number one app in India, one of WhatsApp’s biggest markets, on Apple and Android phones.
Now, WhatsApp executives are trying to reassure users that its changes are minor, that it cannot read user messages, and that its services are more secure than some competitors. compete.
“WhatsApp has helped bring end-to-end encryption to people around the world and we are committed to protecting this security technology now and in the future,” WhatsApp said in a corporate blog post. “With these updates, nothing has changed.”
Some limited information from WhatsApp is shared with Facebook, the parent company of WhatsApp. But changes to WhatsApp’s terms of service for activation happened in 2016, and the terms have essentially not been updated since.
This explosion reveals a rare mistake for the messaging giant, which Facebook bought in 2014 for $ 16 billion. For years, Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive officer of Facebook, let WhatsApp function largely as an independent entity, backed by Facebook’s infrastructure and resources. During that time, WhatsApp has grown to serve more than a billion users – most of them outside the US.
That approach has changed in recent years. Jan Koum and Brian Acton, the founders of WhatsApp, left the company in 2018 following a disagreeable relationship with Zuckerberg. Since then, Zuckerberg’s touch has grown heavier. He wants to combine messaging services between Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, which require years of technical work.
While Zuckerberg thinks Facebook is doubling down on user privacy, some former employees fear integration could make apps like WhatsApp even less secure over time. WhatsApp is not connected to Messenger or Instagram yet.
Outrage at WhatsApp’s privacy changes is ironic, given the company is struggling with misinformation about its service. WhatsApp has been used to spread misinformation surrounding elections in Brazil and other countries, which is difficult to counter because of the service’s private, closed nature.
“There is a lot of misinformation that is of concern, and we want to help people understand our principles and the truth,” the company said.