Whatsapp issued an update to its privacy policy last month which received much criticism and caused controversy.
Read on to know about the changes and how they affect you.

Assuming you haven’t been livingunder a rock for a while, you know about the buzz Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsAppcreated last month when banners started popping up on the app notifying usersabout its updated privacy policy and giving them a choice to either accept the changesby February 8 or stop using the app altogether. This was followed by a lot ofcontroversy and misinformation that spread like wildfire. Here we try to makesense of what the situation actually is and help you make a decision on whetherto quit the app or continue using it.

The policy changes

Following the criticism that Facebook faced, the company has now delayed the deadline for accepting the terms to May 15, 2021, and has set up an FAQ page where it tries to highlight what are the changes being made and what remains the same with the update. WhatsApp claims that the change is majorly focused on business usage and the information they collect will help run businesses better via the platform.

  • What’s changing – As we said above, the company states that the changes are focused on business use and according to the FAQ page “Messaging with businesses is different than messaging with your family or friends” this means that the chats you do with a business account on WhatsApp can be seen by the company and it “may use that information for its own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook.” The company says this will help facilitate large businesses that need to use hosting services for managing their communication with their customers. Facebook will offer its own secure hosting services to businesses for managing the chats and use the information collected.

The company also clearly states that Facebook ads will now have an option to message the business on WhatsApp and that the company will use how you interact with these ads to deliver personalized ads to you on Facebook.

  • What remains the same – The FAQ makes it clear that WhatsApp does not still collect and share your chats with family and friends, that is, your chats with a regular or personal WhatsApp account. No information is logged or shared with Facebook and other third parties regarding your calling and messaging habits, your location history, contact information and group messages.

A new feature that the app now offers is Disappearing Messages which can be enabled for sensitive conversations where you wish to delete the conversation after a certain amount of time. The feature once enabled will make conversations of the concerned chat disappear after seven days. This feature as pf now does not have an option to increase or decrease the time limit after which the messages will disappear. However, it must be noted that the messages can still be forwarded to other chats, quoted or screenshotted. So, it is advised to use this with only trusted people.

What happens after May 15

The company initially did notprovide any details regarding what would happen if one fails to accept thepolicy before the said date. Since the pushback though, the company has now givensome more clarity on the matter.

You will still be able to acceptthe changes after May 15, however, until you do so, you will not be able toread or send messages from the app but will be able to receive calls and notifications.

Considering you do not accept thechanges, you will be able to export your chats and download an account reportbefore the said date. You can also choose to delete your WhatsApp account whichwill be an irreversible change since it removes you from all groups and deletesyour backups.

The app also has a separate policyfor inactive accounts which you can read here.

Leave or stay

This is the question that perilsmost individuals, to give in to Facebook’s greedy and data hungry policy orleave.

WhatsApp has already been sharinga lot of your information with Facebook and its affiliated companies for yearsnow. Since 2016 it shares info. like your usage data, diagnostics, contact information toname a few. This however does not mean your chats and other calls are beingshared and used by the company. WhatsApp says that your personal chats arestill end to end encrypted and will continue to remain so. Considering this,you can continue using WhatsApp with a little more caution towards the type of accountyou converse with.

If you are still sceptical and donot trust the company, you can look for renowned alternatives like Signal and Telegram.Our preference for the switch would be Signal as it uses the same E2Eencryption used by WhatsApp and is actually much closer to the original visionof WhatsApp. The app works on a donation-based model and is not likely to besold anytime soon (we hope).

What do you prefer?

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