Why WhatsApp has extended the deadline on T&C changes

By William Smith
WhatsApp originally said that the new terms and conditions must be accepted by 8 February to continue using the platform. That deadline is now 15 May...

Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp has announced a delay in the introduction of controversial changes to its privacy platform.

Having sent updated terms to its billions of users, WhatsApp originally said that the new terms and conditions must be accepted by 8 February to continue using the platform. That deadline has now been extended to 15 May.

The background

WhatsApp first came to prominence thanks to its message encryption capabilities. When it was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $19bn, some questioned the possible mingling of Facebook and WhatsApp data.

In a posting on its site, the company was at pains to emphasise that the new privacy changes did not mean it would share private data with its parent company Facebook, saying that neither it nor Facebook could see personal messages, that groups remained private and that it didn’t share contacts with Facebook.

Instead, it said that the changes were mainly based around expanding the methods of contacting businesses via Whatsapp.

WhatsApp’s response

In a blog post, WhatsApp said: “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.

“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.”

Regardless, the news of the changes has sent a sizable number of users flocking to competitors, one of the most prominent being Signal. In fact, the messaging platform experienced a number of outages due to the surge in users, with the service touting “millions of new Signal users” in a tweet. 

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