WhatsApp is delaying the coming into effect of controversial new privacy policy

By now, you are probably all too familiar with this notice that has been popping up over the past week:

As can be seen above, the new privacy policy was set to take effect on February 8th, 2021.

That is not going to happen.

A statement posted on WhatsApp’s blog shows that the popular messaging service is giving its over 2 billion users more time to understand its new privacy policy before finally effecting them, a climb back from its earlier position.

“We’re now moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms. No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8,” WhatsApp notes.

The new date for WhatsApp users to have accepted the updated privacy policy and terms of usage of the service is May 15th, at least 3 months after the initial intended effective date.

During the 3 months, WhatsApp says that it will be “going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp”.

WhatsApp has been forced to issue statements in print newspapers in countries like India in attempts to shed more light on the actions it is undertaking. It also shared similar messaging on social media in addition to adding an FAQ page to address the same.

As WhatsApp was working overtime to contain the fallout since it shared with users that it was updating its privacy policy, perceived by many as wordplay for sharing more data with its mother company, Facebook, including personal chat information (something WhatsApp disputes), users have migrated, in their tens of millions, to rival messenger services.

Privacy-focused messaging service Signal has seen an upward spiral of new users, registering about 40 million new installs on the Google Play Store (at least going by these undated screengrabs). As of the time of writing this, the service is experiencing a major outage occasioned by strained resources due to the massive user migration to the platform.

Another messenger app, Telegram, has also benefitted immensely from WhatsApp’s crisis, breaking its 500 million active user milestone this week and netting 25 million new users over a 72-hour period.

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Since 2016, WhatsApp has shared user data with Facebook, even though users have had an opportunity to opt-out of that arrangement.

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