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WhatsApp clarifies its new terms of service is for business chats

WhatsApp's new terms of service has caused an uproar among users over the messaging app sharing data with Facebook.

WhatsApp's new terms of service.
WhatsApp's new terms of service.

WhatsApp has been notifying users of its new terms of service that come into effect on February 8. The new policy change comes with this option to either agree to the updated terms or lose access to one’s WhatsApp account. This has naturally alarmed WhatsApp users especially considering Facebook’s poor reputation with user data. WhatsApp has now clarified on what the new terms mean for users, and their data.

The new WhatsApp terms explain the messaging app will share data with Facebook. Data includes personal details such as phone number, profile name and address book information. In a statement to The Verge, WhatsApp said that the new data policies are for users messaging businesses on the platform. WhatsApp added that this does not change how user data is currently handled by the company.

“As we announced in October, WhatsApp wants to make it easier for people to both make a purchase and get help from a business directly on WhatsApp. While most people use WhatsApp to chat with friends and family, increasingly people are reaching out to businesses as well. To further increase transparency, we updated the privacy policy to describe that going forward businesses can choose to receive secure hosting services from our parent company Facebook to help manage their communications with their customers on WhatsApp. Though of course, it remains up to the user whether or not they want to message with a business on WhatsApp,” The Verge quoted WhatsApp as saying.

“The update does not change WhatsApp’s data sharing practices with Facebook and does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family wherever they are in the world. WhatsApp remains deeply committed to protecting people’s privacy. We are communicating directly with users through WhatsApp about these changes so they have time to review the new policy over the course of the next month,” the statement added.

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The furore over WhatsApp’s new policy changes even led to Elon Musk tweeting about it, and telling people to use Signal instead. Shortly after Signal announced it is facing shortage of verification codes with a host of people trying to sign up on the privacy-focused messaging app.

WhatsApp is still the most popular messaging app globally with over 1.4 billion users. This incident has surely caused an uproar but we’ll have to see how much of an impact it can actually make on WhatsApp’s user base.

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