WhatsApp Delays Privacy Update in Response to Backlash

WhatsApp announced on Friday that it is going to postpone an update to its privacy policy in response to concerns from Security advocates. Originally, users that did not accept the new privacy policy by February 8th would have their accounts deleted. Users now have until May 15th to review and accept the new policy changes.

In addition, WhatsApp has clarified what its new privacy policy means. The firm noted the update doesn’t affect the privacy of messages with friends and family but relates to messaging businesses through the platform. 

WhatsApp also said the update “provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.” At the same time, messaging apps like Telegram and Signal have experienced a boom as privacy advocates note that these two apps also provide end-to-end encryption and don’t share your personal data with third parties. Telegram noted on Tuesday it had surpassed 500 million active users and gained more than 25 million new global users in just 72 hours. Signal has also noticed such a boom in users that it suffered a 24-hour outage this past weekend. Now back up and running, Signal has now amassed 8.8 million new users last week.

So, what does this mean for the average user? With many people working from home during the pandemic, there grew a need for secure and encrypted mobile communication. Many businesses did rely on WhatsApp early in the pandemic for encrypted video calls back when Zoom was having its issues with “Zoom bombing” early on. In addition to Signal and Telegram, other business apps, like Microsoft Teams, do exist and also provide encryption. If you have privacy concerns around what your business is using for messaging and video conferencing, researching these and other alternatives is a good place to start.