Sunday, March 7, 2021

WhatsApp to reach out to users via ‘status’ and banners on proposed privacy policy update

WhatsApp to reach out to users via 'status' and banners on proposed privacy policy update

WhatsApp, which faced a severe backlash over the latest update to its privacy policy, will now leverage its own platform to reach out to users directly via the “status” feature, while also putting up banners on the application, to share detailed information on the proposed policy updates.

“We previously encountered a great deal of misinformation about this update and we continue to work hard to clear up any confusion… We’ll be doing much more to make our voice clear going forward,” the Facebook-owned instant messaging firm said.

Editorial | Update debate: On WhatsApp and privacy

WhatsApp’s new policy was to come into effect on February 8.

However, amid criticism and confusion over the updates resulting in sharing of users’ data with Facebook, the company had pushed back the rollout to May 15.

It has since clarified that this update does not expand its ability to share data with Facebook. It stressed that this update does not change the privacy of people’s personal conversations and is about “optional business features”.

Also read | India asks WhatsApp to withdraw changes in privacy policy

The company said during this time, some people may check out other apps to see what they have to offer.

“We’ve seen some of our competitors try to get away with claiming they can’t see people’s messages — if an app doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption by default that means they can read your messages.”

It said while other apps say they are better because they know even less information than WhatsApp, it believes that people are looking for apps to be both reliable and safe, even if that requires WhatsApp having some limited data.

Also read | WhatsApp policy: Indians apprehensive about privacy, says CJI

“We have reflected on what we could have done better here. We want everyone to know our history of defending end-to-end encryption and trust we are committed to protecting people’s privacy and security. We’re now using our Status feature to share our values and updates directly within WhatsApp. We’ll be doing much more to make our voice clear going forward.”

It said it will in the coming weeks also display a banner providing more information that people can read at their own pace. “We’ve also included more information to try and address concerns we’re hearing. Eventually, we’ll start reminding people to review and accept these updates to keep using WhatsApp.”

Saying it is important people know how WhatsApp can be provided for free, it said it charges businesses to provide customer service and not people.

“Everyday millions of people start a WhatsApp chat with a business because it’s easier to do so than placing a phone call or exchanging emails. Some shopping features involve Facebook so that businesses can manage their inventory across apps. We display more information directly in WhatsApp so people can choose if they want to engage with businesses or not.” it said.

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