Relaunch of WhatsApp’s Private Policy May Soon Penalize Users For Not Accepting It

14 May, 2021 (Friday)

After Whatsapp launched its new Privacy Policy last year, it was met with much controversy questioning the credibility and safety of the privacy policy. Whatsapp retracted the policy and brought a new one recently. 

WhatsApp launched the new update first with more direct in-app alerts that triggered a huge jump amongst WhatsApp users who expressed concern that changes soon led WhatsApp to share personal information with the parent firm Facebook, including access to their private messages, and to be obliged to accept the update or to remove WhatsApp's access.

On all counts, this is false, but the simple assertion was enough to propel alternate messaging applications to the top of the download charts - Telegram, for example, added 25 million new subscribers in just three days, while Signal and Viber saw huge spikes of interest.

The backlash was severe enough to cause Facebook to run full-page newspaper advertisements to help justify the move, then, as previously said, walk it back entirely to give it some time to convey the full effects of the upgrade.

However, in order to promote Facebook's wider messaging eCommerce plans, such as allowing Facebook Pay and cross-app connectivity, WhatsApp must ultimately enforce the update. Now it's back up and running.

And, although it is taking a much lighter stance this time, the repercussions of refusing to consider the move are somewhat serious.

According to Whatsapp, "After a period of several weeks, the [privacy policy update] reminder people receive will eventually become persistent. At that time, you’ll encounter limited functionality on WhatsApp until you accept the updates. This will not happen to all users at the same time."

The increased penalties for noncompliance can cause renewed anxiety among WhatsApp users, giving alternative messaging tools a boost. However, WhatsApp will be betting that the sheer size of the app will deter most consumers from bothering - if all of the friends and conversations are already in WhatsApp, and enough people can't be bothered re-starting their networks in a new app, that will prevent any substantial lack in use.

The change only applies to encounters with specific companies inside the app, who can want to use the information gleaned from such interactions for ads or other contact purposes. While, as previously said, it will ultimately allow WhatsApp to offer more payment options in-stream, it will also move towards Facebook's wider messaging integration strategy.