Why WhatsApp Extended its Privacy Policy Agreement to May 15?

WhatsApp’s new privacy policy didn’t go the way Facebook-owned online messenger would have presumed. Soon after the messenger popped a window enforcing users to agree to their revised terms or delete their account, the entire web went through a storm. While some analysts believe that the revised policy results from the Apple vs. Facebook feud, others consider this the ultimate Facebook Operandi of using data to earn money.

To top it off, Musk’s tweet suggested that people download Signal Messenger instead. It didn’t take long for people to submit the reaction and Signal Messenger noted a sudden surge in app downloads so much that it asked for some time to get prepared.

But things aren’t this simple and straight. There’s an entire trail of business and marketing strategies that started way back in 2014 when Silicon Valley noticed one of its biggest-ever acquisition. Besides this, we also can’t sideline claims depicting a separate privacy policy for the Europe region. Let’s start with understanding these basics.

Closely analyzing the WhatsApp Privacy Policy controversy

When Facebook acquired WhatsApp, the latter was an ad-free chat platform with millions of loyal users, and Facebook was already under thin eyes for compromising with user data. Perhaps, this is why the acquisition was considered a social platform’s initiative to have more user data.

WhatsApp’s parent company had the right to mold and transform its new possession to generate maximum revenue and earn back its $16 billion investment under all circumstances. The only way it knew was collecting and selling data to businesses for personalized ads and custom marketing strategies.

This isn’t the first time it has made changes. Let’s have a look at privacy policy updates made after acquisition;

August 25, 2016

December 19, 2019

January 4, 2021

I’m sure most of us don’t go through them while tapping the Agree button. This time I decided to scroll through an ‘eagle’s eye.’ While the 2016 and 2019 updates don’t have any significant change, 2021 took things a little differently.

Amidst the entire chaos and understanding the updates made, users learned that Europe has a separate privacy policy. The same got confirmed when Irish Times released news sharing that European customers won’t have to share any data with Facebook.

You can have a look at their Terms of Service and Privacy Policy yourself.

Why WhatsApp Privacy Policy for Europe is different?

This is because of stringent data protection acts in Europe. The EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) isn’t as flexible as other countries. The new draft issued in November 2020 by the European Data Protection Board restricts businesses from using consumer data for economic purposes.

When compiled with Schrems II ruling, the changes don’t allow a foreign company to collect and process European citizens’ personal information across the border. While this was initially implemented to restrict Chinese apps like TikTok and others, Facebook, with its new upgrade, fell in the same red circle.

Why did WhatsApp delay the Privacy Policy Agreement?

WhatsApp started initially with the sole reason to serve users ease in staying connected with near and dear ones. The sudden and massive change in privacy policy raised the brows of people across the globe. This was followed by a considerable number of WhatsApp users switching to Signal or other secured chat platforms.

This made WhatsApp’s parent company insecure of its market stand, and it eventually decided to take prompt action to maintain its user base. Delaying the implementation of the new privacy policy to May 15, 2020, was the first step, followed by a few other rectification initiatives.

WhatsApp issues clarity on its updated privacy policy agreement

User privacy is one of the major concerns in today’s web world. Besides chats and files, users share their numerous other personal information, and they need to stay assured of this not getting misused. WhatsApp’s revised policy worked like a blow to prevailing security threat flames and Facebook’s murky past selling user data. And this isn’t my statement, ’n’ number of times this has come out in public.

Hence, to ensure not losing people’s trust and loyalty, it utilized different platforms to win-back the confidence and made itself evident.

An example of this is a tweet made from an official WhatsApp account.

official WhatsApp account
official WhatsApp account

Uploading a WhatsApp status

To get itself out of the controversy, WhatsApp also updated its status, perhaps, for the first time. Here are the screenshots.

Four Images

As can be seen, the aim is to make people acquainted with the new policy and not worry about their online data security.

Releasing a blog post

Besides a Twitter post and WhatsApp status, the company also released a blog post on its official portal, ‘Give More Time For Our Recent Update.’ The blog post primarily shared its vision with the revised policy. It mentioned that the update includes new ways to interact with businesses.

This is the same question people have. And I feel asking for more time will help them clarify things (if they aren’t in the mood to use personal data for business). However, it can’t be denied that if the privacy policy is so transparent, why they have to draft a different version for EU citizens

Running Google Text Ads

WhatsApp left no stone unturned in efforts to keep its stance and ensure it reaches people far and wide. And the below screenshot of its ad on Google bears testimony to it.

What to expect with delay in WhatsApp’s new privacy policy

Facebook’s interest in user data to generate revenue is unquestionable. However, this time it seems to have got itself in the middle of wet sand — especially soon after its fight with Apple over privacy features in iOS 14.

This backlash’s primary reason is Facebook’s history and how ad-free chat app transformed over the years with features like WhatsApp Business and online payment using UPI. There isn’t any doubt the three-month delay will give the team sufficient time to clear its part.

For now, the team said, “No one will lose their WhatsApp account upon not accepting the revised policy. The asked time is to educate people about the changes we are planning, and we’ll wait for them to decide at their own pace eventually.”

What are your views on WhatsApp’s delay in privacy policy agreement?

It’s safe to say the policy will remain; only the efforts to convince you will increase. Let’s see if this is the dusk for a ‘once ad-free and most loved chat platform’ or dawn to an all-new world for Facebook.

Share your views in the comment section below!

Mayank is a published author and serves as a senior writer at iGeeksblog.com. He has over ten years of writing experience for various domains and industries.