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WhatsApp Extends Deadline on Facebook Data Sharing Update

Michael Behr

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WhatsApp

While the new rules will not apply in the UK and Europe, they have driven millions of people to download new messaging apps.

WhatsApp has extended the deadline on its controversial new privacy policy from the original date of February 8 to May 15.

The new rules will see users of the popular messaging service agree to having their data shared with WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook. A pop-up message encouraged anyone who disagreed with the new policy to delete the app.

Announced earlier this month, the new rules would not have applied to users in Europe and the UK, who would have to agree to a new privacy policy that lacked the new data sharing terms.

Facebook would be able to access a variety of data, including the location of the user, financial transactions made over WhatsApp and contact details, to help target ads, among other reasons.

However, the messages themselves would still be end-to-end encrypted, meaning the contents would not be accessible to Facebook.

This is at odds with Facebook’s own messaging service, Facebook Messenger, which can access the content of messages sent between users.

Sharing data with Facebook was previously an opt-out policy, which users had to agree to within 30 days of first downloading the app.

In a statement, WhatsApp said there had been “confusion” and “misinformation” surrounding the new policy.

“The update includes new options people will have to message a business on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data,” it said.

“While not everyone shops with a business on WhatsApp today, we think that more people will choose to do so in the future and it’s important people are aware of these services. This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook.”

It also added: “No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8.”

The company added that it will review its policy before new business options are available on May 15.

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WhatsApp’s announcement of its new privacy policy has been a boon for smaller messaging apps. Signal, another end-to-end encrypted service, has been a major beneficiary, with Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk encouraging people to swap over.

Signal has said that its userbase has grown from around 10 million to over 50 million days in the past few days.

The influx of new users has caused Signal some technical problems in the last few days, with some users unable to send messages over the weekend.

Another popular alternative is Telegram. The app said on January 12, a matter of days after the new privacy policy was announced, that it had added around 25 million new users, bringing its userbase to around 500 million.

Telegram founder Pavel Durov recently called the move away from WhatsApp “the largest digital migration in human history”.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp has seen its new downloads fall by over 2 million between 5-12 January compared to the week before, down to 10.6 million.

With a user base of around 2 billion people, WhatsApp has claimed to be the most popular messaging service in the world.

Michael Behr

Senior Staff Writer

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