Several WhatsApp users were recently greeted with a seemingly innocuous in-app pop-up that casually hinted at some changes in the user data and privacy policies. While the pop-up seemed innocent, it clearly marked the end of whatever little iota of privacy WhatsApp offered after it was acquired by Facebook for $19 Billion.
The update essentially confirmed suspicions that peaked when Facebook acquired WhatsApp. Incidentally, accepting the terms and conditions isn’t optional. WhatsApp users cannot ignore the pop-up with “Remind me later”.
— Ꭺиυʝ Ꮢαgнαν (@RaghavTechie) January 7, 2021
As awareness about the new privacy-busting update spread, users started abandoning the platform in droves. Rivals like Signal, Telegram, and even Skype, benefitted immensely.
After Elon Musk openly backed the ‘Signal’ messaging app, the platform skyrocketed in downloads and became an overnight chartbuster. Needless to mention, the app was the biggest gainer of WhatsApp’s loss.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 7, 2021
Perhaps understanding the concern, WhatsApp has decided to halt the roll-out of their controversial terms of service update. Technical jargon aside, the update essentially asked users to agree to share data with Facebook or leave the service by the 8th February 2021.
Facebook appears to be merely attempting to halt or at least slow down the mass exodus of WhatsApp users. WhatsApp is still the largest instant messaging platform. However, at the rate people are abandoning ship, Telegram or Signal could dwarf WhatsApp.
This is the data WhatsApp is sharing with Facebook at present…
— Regina Dulanjali (@ReginaDulanjali) January 7, 2021
However, loyal users, who will have to eventually agree to the new WhatsApp Policy Update, will automatically share their WhatsApp account registration and phone number, transaction data, service-related information, interaction information, mobile device information, IP address, and “other information identified… or obtained upon notice to you or based on your consent,” indicated Facebook.