WhatsApp canceled its February 8 deadline and said it would use the break to clear up misinformation around privacy and security.
SAN FRANCISCO – WhatsApp on Friday rejected the data sharing change as users concerned about privacy escaped the Facebook-owned messaging service and flocked to Telegram and Signal rivals.
The smartphone app, a huge hit around the world, canceled its deadline for an update to its terms regarding data sharing with Facebook on February 8, and said it would use the break to clear misinformation about privacy and security.
“We’ve heard from so many people how much confusion there is around our latest update,” WhatsApp said in a blog post.
“This update does not extend our ability to share data with Facebook.”
She said that instead “people will gradually review the policy at their own pace before there are new business opportunities on May 15.”
The update concerns how WhatsApp merchants using chat with customers can share data with Facebook, which may use targeted ad information, according to the social network.
“We can not see your private messages or hear your conversations, and neither can Facebook,” WhatsApp said in an earlier blog post.
“We do not keep diaries of who everyone is messaging or communicating. We can not see your shared location and also Facebook.”
Location data along with message content is encrypted from end to end, according to WhatsApp.
“We are giving businesses the option to use secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions and send helpful information like purchase receipts,” WhatsApp said.
“Whether you communicate with a business by phone, email or WhatsApp, he can see what you are saying and may use that information for his marketing purposes, which may include Facebook advertising.”
Technology experts point out that WhatsApp’s new requirement for its users is making the legally binding policy widely used since 2016.
Facebook aims to monetize WhatsApp by enabling businesses to connect with customers through the platform, making it natural for the internet giant to centralize certain data on its servers.
The Turkish Competition Authority has said it is launching an investigation and is forcing WhatsApp to suspend the data sharing obligation on its users.
Several Turkish state organizations – including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Ministry of Communications – have moved in response to Turksel Telecom’s new messaging service.
The terms and conditions of service put WhatsApp on target in Italy and India, where a petition was filed in a court in Delhi.
The WhatsApp message to users is lacking in clarity and its implications for its privacy should be carefully assessed, the Italian data protection agency GPDP said in a statement on its website.
GPDP has announced that it has shared its concerns with the European Data Protection Board and has reserved the right to intervene in the matter.
Facebook has come under increasing pressure from regulators as it tries to integrate its services.
The EU fined the American social media giant 110 million euros for providing incorrect and misleading information about its takeover of WhatsApp in 2014 regarding the ability to link accounts between services.
U.S. federal and state regulators have accused Facebook of using its WhatsApp and Instagram acquisitions to fend off competition and filed monopoly lawsuits last month aimed at forcing the company to eliminate them.
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