Restricting the situation again – back in January, WhatsApp announced an upcoming update to its privacy terms which would mean that some data from people’s interactions with companies within WhatsApp could be shared with the parent company Facebook. At no point was personal information about messaging or interaction data in WhatsApp, which was encrypted from end to end, supposed to be shared by the two companies, but in any case, the announcement provoked a big reaction, which led to millions of people took an alternative to messaging apps like Signal and Telegram in an attempt to move away from the app.
The user response had to be significant because WhatsApp decided two weeks after the initial announcement postpone change to give companies more time to explain the update and to better prepare users for what is happening.
That’s when WhatsApp started early last month showing users alerts in the app once more, informing them of the forthcoming change, albeit with clarified formulations and more concrete explanations.
WhatsApp clearly hoped that these more concrete incentives would alleviate the concern, but they clearly did not.
Last month, The Indian government has invited the messaging giant to pull change in full, citing concerns about data sharing, while German regulators too called for an EU-wide update ban, questioning the implications of new data exchange processes.
India is particularly concerned about Facebook in this regard, and the company is planning great expansion in the region, which contains the largest database of individual WhatsApp users (530+ million users).
But Facebook needs to implement an update to take the next steps forward with its plans to monetize WhatsApp, and has since launched its own unlawful lawsuit against the Indian government last week to push through change.
Which is not good for Facebook’s long-term prospects in the region. That’s why this new update makes sense.
Last week, WhatsApp changed the text of the terms around the upcoming update, which effectively removes any form of penalty for the user for not accepting the change.
When WhatsApp announced in his second attempt to introduce change, he explained that:
These constraints, which would escalate over time, were to include:
- Unable to access chat list
- Remove the ability to receive incoming calls or notifications
- Eventually, WhatsApp “will stop sending messages and calls to your phone”
But now, WhatsApp is completely removing those penalties.
IN newly formed explainer, WhatsApp says that:
“Since most users who have seen the update have accepted, we will continue to display a notification on WhatsApp with more information about the update and remind those who have not had the opportunity to review and accept it. We do not currently plan for these reminders to become permanent and to limit the functionality of the application. “
So no penalties for non-acceptance. If you do not agree, you do not have to accept the new terms and this will not affect your account.
Which is a significant step backwards – and perhaps that will be enough to calm Indian officials down and avoid further tensions that could turn Facebook’s future plans in the region.
“There will be other opportunities for those who have not accepted the updates to do so directly in the app. For example, when someone re-registers for WhatsApp or if someone wants to use the feature associated with this update for the first time.”
Therefore, WhatsApp quietly diluted its potential penalties to avoid further conflicts, albeit only after “most users” accepted the new terms under the threat of deactivating the app.
Will that be enough to allay all concerns – and will regulators and officials be satisfied with Facebook’s business practices in this regard, basically using violent tactics, even if they have walked through them afterwards?
An interesting implementation highlights the growing tension between network platforms and various government bodies over the use of user data, which seems to remain a key point of discussion at least in the near future.
But for now, WhatsApp users will not be required to accept the new rule. While, at some stage, they are not.
Which could be the next point of conflict for the app.