Social Media

WhatsApp is Again Explaining its Privacy Policy to Users

WhatsApp now has a new plan to explain its privacy policy before the new launch. The company will explain the policy that was under fire when users were concerned that the platform would share their messages with its parent company Facebook. In an announcement, the company tried to explain how users can read through the new policy and understand how business and personal messages, which have different privacy standards are handled.

The new privacy policy is a huge concern for messaging businesses on WhatsApp and what parts of the data those businesses will have access to. Most WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted, which means that they can only be accessed by the people actually talking. However, WhatsApp also lets users message businesses, and those messages are not extended the same protections. The data in business messages can be used for commercial purposes like ad targeting on Facebook, and some of them are even stored on Facebook’s servers. WhatsApp’s privacy policy was just an attempt to explain the change, but most of the users on the platform interpreted it as WhatsApp comprising on their privacy.

Before the new May 15th launch (moved from February 8th), WhatsApp now plans to offer users the ability to review this new privacy policy inside its app. The company already tried to reassure users through WhatsApp’s Status feature, but now WhatsApp will include a banner that can be tapped to pull up the complete explanation of the new policy. The company will remind users to read the new policy and accept it to keep using the app.

WhatsApp also said that businesses usually pay for the right to use the platform to reach customers, and that is one of the reasons that WhatsApp is able to provide its app for free. The main features of WhatsApp will remain as private as before. Of course, it’s not as private as some users might think- WhatsApp has started sharing some personal information like phone numbers and profile photos with Facebook in 2016 to improve friend recommendations and ads on the app.

WhatsApp is likely apologetic in this redo of its policy change. It did not explain what was changing well enough to users, and it owns up to that.

But WhatsApp took a dig at other companies that welcomed the exit from WhatsApp prompted by the policy saying, “During this time, we understand some people may check out other apps to see what they have to offer. We have realized that some of our competitors have tried to get away by claiming they can’t see people’s messages though; we know that if an app does not provide end-to-end encryption by default that means it can read user messages. We strive to be thoughtful and we will continue to develop new means and methods of meeting these responsibilities.”

WhatsApp is indirectly referring to Telegram, an app that, along with Signal, seemed to benefit from the confusion over what was changing in WhatsApp. Telegram has been dealing with its own criticism over not offering end-to-end encryption by default.

 

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