The instant messaging platform has been working to clear confusion and ‘misinformation’ around the said update through full-page newspaper ads and WhatsApp status updates. In the coming weeks, WhatsApp will, in addition, start to display a banner within the app “providing more information that people can read at their own pace,” it said.
At the same time, the Facebook-owned company reiterated on how its service continued to remain free for all users and how only those who chose to do business on the platform were charged — that is how WhatsApp makes money. “Some shopping features involve Facebook so that businesses can manage their inventory across apps,” it said. Only and only those individuals who choose to engage with these businesses would be at the centre of the incoming change(s), WhatsApp said, while individual chats would continue to remain private — like always.
While there are deep concerns about privacy, among both privacy advocates and users alike, the bigger concern is WhatsApp not giving an option to opt out (at least at this point of time). The ‘take it or leave it’ nature of the update has raised many eyebrows, and at the same time, it has led many to think about the repercussions going forward. With Facebook embroiled in a string of data leaks in the past, many WhatsApp users are wary of this ‘mandatory’ sharing of data despite its tall privacy claims. Same reason why more and more people have been flocking to rival chat apps like Telegram and Signal in the last few weeks. You can read more about this here.
WhatsApp has maintained that the update did not expand its ability to share data with Facebook anywhere in the world and that, interactions with businesses — which will be opt in — on the platform will be available only to the recipient party for further use rather than being used for targeted advertising by Facebook.
Taking an indirect dig at Telegram, WhatsApp said it was okay for people to ‘check out’ other apps to see what they had to offer but ‘competitors’ couldn’t get away by saying they couldn’t see people’s messages when they themselves didn’t offer end-to-end encryption by default. To be clear, Facebook Messenger also does not offer any end-to-end encryption during chats. “We believe people are looking for apps to be both reliable and safe, even if that requires WhatsApp having some limited data,” it said.
“Recognising our responsibility towards increasing user education and awareness, we continue to build robust programs around user security, integrity and digital literacy across the country. We are eager to continue to help provide a secure and reliable way for people to communicate and for businesses to grow and thrive.”