WhatsApp on Friday announced that it will be extending the deadline of its confusing policy implementation by three months. The widely criticised policy required that its two billion users must either accept its updated terms and conditions by February 8 or stop using the service altogether. The new cut off date has been set on May 15.
“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 work on WhatsApp,” said WhatsApp in a blog post.
WhatsApp was criticised heavily after sending a confusing notification to its users worldwide that seemed to suggest that under its new terms and conditions, the firm will be sharing more user data with its parent company Facebook.
The announcement quickly drove millions of its loyal fans to alternative messaging apps like Signal and Telegram. In Bangladesh, Turkish messaging app Bip has gained an unusual surge among local users as it ranked first in Google Play Store, rising 92 steps in one day, reported BBC Bangla.
The backlash and criticism prompted WhatsApp to resort to a wide range of defensive tactics that included running full-page ads on several newspapers in India where the firm has amassed its largest user base.
In the blog post, WhatsApp also said that personal messages have always been and will remain encrypted and its practice of sharing some user data with Facebook was not new and is not going to be expanded.
What’s changing is that there will be new options for people to message a business on the platform. This is the data that will be shared if the business is using Facebook and WhatsApp to manage their communications with customers. But they promise to be more transparent in how they collect and use data. Because of all the clarification that needs to be made, they are now letting people review the policy and accept it or not by May 15.
Whether this extended deadline and clarification will bring back users that have jumped ship remains to be seen. It probably depends on the level of trust that consumers have for Facebook and all its other brands like WhatsApp and Instagram.
Given how hard it will be for WhatsApp to regain people’s trust, the company has decided to give users more time to “understand” its new terms. It’s therefore extended the deadline beyond February 8, allowing the company to further communicate on its new policy and clarify its terms. With this in mind, the ultimatum has been pushed back to May 15, which Facebook hopes will be enough time for it to ensure people are comfortable with the fact that their WhatsApp data will remain encrypted and won’t be shared with Facebook, at least in most cases.