Whatsapp Has No Clear Plans After Privacy Updates Caused Confusion Amongst Users - Dispatch Weekly

January 18, 2021 - Reading time: 3 minutes

WhatsApp is fighting the mistrust after updating its privacy policies to allow parent company Facebook and other companies to share user data. Many users took this as a sign that the app would share more data, including messages, with Facebook. WhatsApp has said the privacy updates have created confusion, but the backlash threatens to derail the company’s plans for a major overhaul of its user privacy policies. 

The App update deadline was originally set for February 8, but users now have until May 15 to take action, the company said on Tuesday.

The company has been criticised for sending notifications that could suggest it was sharing data with its parent company Facebook, but said there had been confusion over the messages.

Millions of people around the world have downloaded the encrypted messaging app since the announcement and notifications were circulated on the platform. When asked, WhatsApp referred to a privacy statement on its website stating that the updated privacy policy does not affect the privacy of messages between friends and family. WhatsApp also said the changes to its privacy policies were only related to users’ interactions with the company.

The media campaign and its similarities underscore the severity of the crisis on the world’s most popular messaging platform. 

Users around the world were alarmed when WhatsApp said on January 4 that it reserved the right to share information about its users’ personal information, such as email addresses and phone numbers, with Facebook. The update reportedly included the names of people who send messages to the company via WhatsApp and details of how the data is collected and used. While WhatsApp tried to allay fears and reassure users that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook would have access to their personal information, the Privacy Update Act sparked a storm as the download signal swelled as people searched for alternative messengers.

Many users were concerned that the updated privacy policy signalled a broader data sharing between WhatsApp and Facebook, but WhatsApp hasn’t confirmed this.

WhatsApp has been sharing data such as phone numbers to Facebook since 2016, but the content of messages cannot be viewed between WhatsApp and Facebook.

However, concerns were voiced on Twitter towards competing messaging apps Signal and Telegram, and Signal experienced outages on Saturday due to a rush of users. 

Signal app went back online on Sunday, stating that the App had added new servers and additional capacity every day since last week at record speed.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.