You’ll not be able to chat on WhatsApp again—if you don’t accept the new privacy policy

When WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014, it assured users that the acquisition would not bring any changes to its focus on user privacy and they also released a whole blog post which described the acquisition; here’s a snippet which I found interesting from that article:

Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible: You don’t have to give us your name and we don’t ask for your email address. We don’t know your birthday. We don’t know your home address. We don’t know where you work. We don’t know your likes, what you search for on the internet or collect your GPS location. None of that data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and we really have no plans to change that.

Setting the record straight – WhatsApp Blog

The irony here is that Facebook literally has all that information about you if you have an account there. Facebook needs your Name, your email address, your birthday, your home address (approximately), your workplace, your likes (that’s one way the ads you get on Facebook are so personal), your search history on your web browser (that’s a component of App Tracking, and yes Facebook checks your search history on its mobile apps for more personalized ads), and your GPS location. Still, luckily WhatsApp doesn’t collect most of that data—as of now, scilicet.

It didn’t really turn out like that. Two years later in 2016, WhatsApp started sharing data with Facebook, but it was optional and you could opt out. It’s not the same now, you have to accept the new privacy policy which will allow WhatsApp to share user account information like your phone number, logs of how long and how often you use WhatsApp, device identifiers, IP addresses, and other details about your device with Facebook. Your personal chats will remain end-to-end encrypted but chats with business accounts will be stored on Facebook’s servers, and their data may be used for advertising.

Head’s up: If you use WhatsApp for business for personal use, please stop doing so. Switch to the normal WhatsApp app or urge your friends and family to completely move to another platform like Telegram or Signal.

After WhatsApp’s acquisition by Facebook, a lot has changed and is just going in the opposite direction of what WhatsApp was meant to be. Remember Setting the record straight? The blog post earlier mentioned in this article—by WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum for addressing the Facebook acquisition, here’s a snippet of it and the irony here is huge.

If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it. Instead, we are forming a partnership that would allow us to continue operating independently and autonomously. Our fundamental values and beliefs will not change. Our principles will not change. Everything that has made WhatsApp the leader in personal messaging will still be in place. Speculation to the contrary isn’t just baseless and unfounded, it’s irresponsible. It has the effect of scaring people into thinking we’re suddenly collecting all kinds of new data. That’s just not true, and it’s important to us that you know that.

Make no mistake: our future partnership with Facebook will not compromise the vision that brought us to this point. Our focus remains on delivering the promise of WhatsApp far and wide, so that people around the world have the freedom to speak their mind without fear.

Setting the record straight – WhatsApp Blog

You can read the whole blog post here.

Now, if you don’t accept the new privacy policy, your account wouldn’t be deleted—but major features will be limited. You wouldn’t be able to chat. Still, WhatsApp says if you have notifications enabled, you can reply to chats from there. WhatsApp will allow incoming calls to be accepted as well.

WhatsApp explaining the limited features you will have access to if you don’t accept the new privacy policy. Image: WhatsApp.

But the limited features are limited to a few weeks only. After that even these functionalities will be absent. If you don’t accept this policy in 120 days and keep the app inactive without any limited functionalities, your account will be adjudged inactive and your account will be deleted. Remember, once the account is deleted, you can’t get anything back on WhatsApp, not even chat backups.

Everyone knows that no one reads the terms of service and the privacy policies just because they are very long and purposely made very formal and hard to read. Still, if you want to read WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, you can read it here. We recommend you to instead go through the key points of the ToS and privacy policy from Terms of Service; Didn’t Read which has easy to read summaries of Terms of Services for most online services and apps. Here is WhatsApp’s ToS;DR.

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Arnav Verma
Article writer at Apple TLD.
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