WhatsApp delays take it or leave it privacy terms update until May

Meanwhile, Signal has so many new users that it fell over on the weekend.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: WhatsApp

WhatsApp has announced that it will delay enforcing its new privacy terms from February 8 to May 15.

With little fanfare, in recent weeks, WhatsApp has presented users with a prompt to accept its new privacy terms by February 8, or risk not being able to use the app. In the wording used, WhatsApp says the new privacy policy will change how it partners with Facebook to "offer integrations", and that businesses can use Facebook services to manage WhatsApp chats.

After some online consternation about what Facebook could access, WhatsApp clarified last week that its changes were focused on how businesses used the app.

"We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way," the company said. "Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data."

See also: India puts WhatsApp's impending payments service on ice due to data localisation fracas

By the end of the week though, the company decided to delay the changes until May, saying there was a "lot of misinformation" flying around.

"We're now moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms. No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8," it said.

"We're also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We'll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15."

One of the benefactors of WhatsApp's changes has been Signal, which has seen so many users sign up to its service that its infrastructure fell over at the weekend.

See also: Switching to Signal? Turn on these settings now for greater privacy and security

"We have been adding new servers and extra capacity at a record pace every single day this week nonstop, but today exceeded even our most optimistic projections," the company tweeted. "Millions upon millions of new users are sending a message that privacy matters."

Over a day later, the company said the service had resumed, however, some users have been seeing a "bad encrypted message" warning that requires users to reset the session. Signal said its next update will automatically fix this issue.

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