WhatsApp will soon display an in-app banner to provide more info about its policy changes

WhatsApp will soon display an in-app banner to provide more info about its policy changes

WhatsApp announced that it was updating its privacy policy to mandate data sharing with Facebook earlier this year. But the updated privacy policy met with severe backlash from users worldwide. On top of that, many criticized the manner in which WhatsApp chose to impose the policy on its userbase. Things got to a point where even the Indian government sent an official notice to the company to withdraw the changes, citing “grave concerns” to the implications for choice and autonomy of Indian citizens (LOL). Although WhatsApp made an attempt to clarify the changes and reassure users that their private data wasn’t at risk, the company was forced to postpone the new policy by a few months. Now that the date is drawing closer, it is exploring other ways to inform users about the changes and dispel all doubts.

In a recent blog post, WhatsApp has revealed that it will soon display a banner in the app to provide more information about the policy changes. With this, the company aims to address all concerns that it has come across over the last few weeks. WhatsApp plans to display the new banner for a significant amount of time, allowing users to go through the changes at their own pace. It’s worth noting that the company is already utilizing the “Status” feature in WhatsApp to “share our values and updates” with users.

The blog post also talks about WhatsApp’s business model, presumably as an attempt to assure users that they aren’t the product. The company states: “We also think it’s important people know how we can provide WhatsApp for free. Every day millions of people start a WhatsApp chat with a business because it’s easier to do so than placing a phone call or exchanging emails. We charge businesses to provide customer service on WhatsApp – not people. Some shopping features involve Facebook so that businesses can manage their inventory across apps. We display more information directly in WhatsApp so people can choose if they want to engage with businesses, or not.”

Finally, WhatsApp takes the blog post as an opportunity to reproach competitors who have greatly benefited from the recent events. The company notes that some of its competitors have tried to “get away with claiming they can’t see people’s messages” even when they don’t offer end-to-end encryption by default. It adds that if an app doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption by default, “that means that they can read your messages.” This seems to be a direct jab at Telegram, which only offers end-to-end encryption on its Secret Chats feature.

Talking about other apps that do offer end-to-end encryption by default, the company stated, “Other apps say they’re better because they know even less information than WhatsApp.We believe people are looking for apps to be both reliable and safe, even if that requires WhatsApp having some limited data. We strive to be thoughtful on the decisions we make and we’ll continue to develop new ways of meeting these responsibilities with less information, not more.” I don’t exactly see how collecting less user data is a bad thing, which makes this point sound a bit ridiculous. Sure, some apps may not offer as many features as WhatsApp because they collect less user data, but do you actually need all of those features in a messaging app? If your answer is yes, then you should probably accept WhatsApp’s new policy changes and stick with the app. If not, then here are a couple of alternatives that you can consider.

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Pranob Mehrotra
Pranob Mehrotra

A Literature and Linguistics graduate with a keen interest in everything Android. When not writing about tech, Pranob spends most of his time either playing League of Legends or lurking on Reddit.