WhatsApp delays changing its service standards after user reaction

WhatsApp delays changing its service standards after user reaction, AFP reported.

Users began migrating to other applications after posting a notice announcing changes to their privacy, which triggered a massive migration of their users.

The hugely successful worldwide smartphone app canceled the February 8 deadline for users to agree to the new rules, which include sharing their information with Facebook servers, ensuring that it will use this pause to clear up misinformation about Privacy & Security.

"We hear from a lot of people how much confusion there is about our recent update," WhatsApp said in a blog post.

"This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook," he added.

Instead, the company said it will turn to people "gradually to review the rules at their own pace before new trading options become available on May 15."

The controversial update is related to the way that merchants who use WhatsApp to contact customers can share the data with Facebook, which can in turn use the information for profiled advertisements, according to the social network.

"We cannot see your private messages or listen to your calls, neither can Facebook," WhatsApp had explained in a previous post.

“We do not keep records of user activity on messages or calls. We cannot see its location and neither can Facebook, ”he said.

According to WhatsApp, the information about the location and the content of the messages is encrypted from end to end. 

"We are giving companies the option of using Facebook's secure data storage services to manage conversations with their customers, answer questions and send useful information such as purchase receipts," he explained.

"If you communicate with a business by phone, email or WhatsApp, they can see what you are saying and they can use that information for their own marketing purposes, which can include advertising on Facebook."

Tech experts point out that the new requirement makes legally binding a policy that has been widely in use since 2016.

Facebook intends to monetize WhatsApp by allowing businesses to contact their customers through the platform, making it natural for the internet giant to centralize data on its servers.

Worried countries

Turkey's Competition Authority said it is opening an investigation and will require WhatsApp to suspend the obligation to share data from its users.

Several Turkish state organizations - including the president's press office - migrated to Turkcell's new BiP messaging service in response.

The adjustment of the terms of service also put WhatsApp in the spotlight in Italy and India, where a petition was filed in a Delhi court.

For the Italian data protection agency GPDP, the notification of WhatsApp to its users lacked clarity and its privacy implications need to be carefully evaluated, as assessed by the agency on its website.

Facebook is facing mounting pressure from regulators as it tries to integrate its services.

The European Union fined the social media giant 110 million euros [about $ 120 million at the time] for providing inaccurate information about its 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp and its ability to link accounts between services.

State and federal regulators in the United States have accused Facebook of using its purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram to suppress competition and filed antitrust lawsuits last month.

- Race by users -

Fears about user privacy have been growing around the platforms, so Uber has gone to great lengths to emphasize that the change in the terms of its application that will take effect on January 18 has nothing to do with share data.

Meanwhile, rival encrypted message application Telegram has seen a marked increase in users since the announcement of WhatsApp, said its founder Pavel Durov.

"People no longer want to trade their privacy for free services," he said, without directly mentioning the rival service.

The encrypted messaging app Signal also confirmed a rapid increase in users, helped in part by a tweet from the world's richest man, Elon Musk, recommending it.