India is a major market for WhatsApp, accounting for more than 400 million or 40 crore users, and the move could have major implications for the instant messaging app.
WhatsApp criticism: Backlash from business leaders
As people started making memes on WhatsApp and expressing their displeasure at the way they were being arm-twisted into accepting these terms, top business leaders also entered the debate.
Tech mogul Elon Musk posted a simple two-word tweet to drive a huge chunk of people to an alternative app. “Use Signal” was his simple solution, and it had a major impact too. Within days, not-for-profit instant messaging app Signal saw a significant growth in user count.
But Elon Musk was not alone. Indian business tycoons like Anand Mahindra, the chairman of Mahindra Group, PhonePe CEO Sameer Nigam, and founder of PayTM Vijay Shekhar Sharma also asked their followers to move to alternative platforms, with both Mahindra and Nigam advocating Signal.
CAIT’s call to ban Facebook, WhatsApp
Amid the major uproar, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) also wrote to the Union IT Ministry seeking either a ban on Facebook as well as WhatsApp or a restriction on WhatsApp from implementing this policy. The traders body said that all kinds of personal information including payment transactions, location, etc, would be acquired by the messaging app for any use. It also asserted that as many as 20 crore Indians used Facebook and if the social media giant was allowed to access their data, it would pose a serious threat to the country.
Notably, users in Europe are exempt from sharing their data with Facebook, and it could be that CAIT was requesting the government to place a similar kind of restriction on WhatsApp.
Thus, chats of business accounts with individuals could be shared with Facebook by the businesses for better integration of Facebook services across products, but the chats of two non-business accounts would not be accessible to anyone else, it had clarified. Location shared over private chats would also not be accessible to the two platforms, and WhatsApp would also not share contact list of any individual with Facebook, it asserted.