WhatsApp’s 2021 privacy policy has caused quite the furore, with thousands of people declaring they would be leaving the Facebook-owned messaging platform that has about two billion users worldwide.

The exodus was sparked because of an update released on January 4, wherein the instant messaging platform explained that it would collect information pertaining to user activity. Most people were upset with this update due to rumours that WhatsApp would share the data collected with its parent company, Facebook. They have since clarified that they are not listening in on personal calls or private messages, neither are they sharing information with Facebook.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the update many have already left the platform or are seriously considering the alternatives.

WhatsApp tried to provide further clarity and said its privacy policy changes will only affect business accounts, evidently, this was always the case and the rumours that the platform would be able to access your chats, voice calls, location data and status updates, were just that – rumours.

However, the unease users felt about the sharing of their data persisted, to remedy this and dispel rumours WhatsApp released a broad statement addressing the issue.

“We recently updated our Privacy Policy and we have received many thoughtful questions,” said the company.

“With some of the rumours going around, we want to answer some of the common questions we have received. We go to great lengths to build WhatsApp in a way that helps people communicate privately.”

They stressed that the policy update does not affect the privacy of user messages with friends or family and said the update “includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data”.

This is what WhatsApp says it can or cannot do with your data:

– WhatsApp can’t see your private messages or hear your call, and neither can Facebook.

– WhatsApp doesn’t keep logs of who you are messaging or calling.

– WhatsApp cannot see your shared location and neither can Facebook.

– WhatsApp cannot see your contacts with Facebook.

– Groups remain private.

– You can set your messages to disappear.

– You can download your data.

The platform also provided an explanation about how their business messaging product works with Facebook.

In October 2020, WhatsApp boasted that more than 175-million people use the platform to message a business account every day. This seems like a significant figure but when you consider that the platform is used by billions, it represents a tiny proportion of its total users.

“Every day, millions of people around the world communicate securely with businesses of all sizes on WhatsApp,” said the company.

Business accounts use special ‘business features’, including Facebook hosting services, new commerce features and business discovery, that allow them to interact with a large number of users, make sales and reach new customers. It is these features that may use your data for marketing purposes or Facebook advertising.

WhatsApp promises to always make it clear when you are communicating with a business that uses these features by clearly labelling these chats.

People have been wary of Facebook’s intrusion on their lives and it seems that the privacy policy update debacle was the last straw for many.

Too late, WhatsApp, many of us are already searching a new way to communicate due to your confusing frequent privacy policy,” commented one Facebook user. “Hopefully you’ll get more transparent on your next version.”


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