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WhatsApp to delay new privacy policy amid over confusion about data sharing

WhatsApp has announced that it would delay its new privacy policy originally scheduled to go into effect on February 8th by three-month following widespread confusion over whether the new policy would mandate data sharing with Facebook.

The update does not affect data sharing with Facebook in user chats or other profile information; WhatsApp has repeatedly been trying to clear up confusion about its privacy practices and clarifying that its update only addresses business chats when a user converses with a company’s customer service platform via WhatsApp.

The company released a new blog post and said, “We have heard how much confusion there is around our recent update. There’s been a lot of misinformation and we want everyone to understand our principles.”

Since 2016, WhatsApp has shared certain information with Facebook, including phone numbers. However, WhatsApp does not look at chat messages or listen to phone calls, and WhatsApp conversations are end-to-end encrypted.

Despite this, pop-up informing users of the new change included mention of how WhatsApp partners with Facebook, which also included instructions to users to delete their account if they did not agree to the new terms. The company released a new blog post this week trying to clear up the confusion, and specified what information is protected and not shared when someone uses WhatsApp.

But numerous media reports and misinformation on social media have led to WhatsApp privacy backlash. The result has led to a surge in users moving to messaging competitors like Signal and Telegram.

Facebook executives, including Instagram chief Adam Mosseri and WhatsApp head Will Cathcart, used Twitter to try to clear up the confusion, but with little success. Facebook’s poor privacy track record has eroded trust in the chat app and led to a worldwide controversy.

WhatsApp now said it will use this three-month delay to better communicate both the changes in its new policy and its long-standing privacy practices around personal chats, location sharing, and other sensitive data.

WhatsApp said, “We on the app will be moving back the date and users will be told to review and accept the terms. No one will be losing access to the app over not agreeing to the new terms. We will be doing a lot more to clear up the misinformation around our privacy works on WhatsApp.”

WhatsApp said that the intent of the update is communicating to users that messages with businesses on WhatsApp may be stored on Facebook servers, which necessitates data sharing between the two companies that the data can be used for businesses for the purpose of advertising, but Facebook does not share it across its apps automatically.

The blog post further reads, “The update on the app includes new many more new options where users will have to message a business on WhatsApp, and this provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.”

WhatsApp still has an intention to release the update on May 15th to coincide with new business chat features.

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