Just last week we discussed the privacy concerns of messaging apps but it has now been confirmed that if you do not accept the updated terms and conditions you will soon be blocked by WhatsApp.
In a release on their website, WhatsApp has confirmed the deadline for agreeing to the new terms will be May 15. In addition, they have announced that there will be a transition period for a “short time” after this date where you’ll be able to receive calls and notifications but not read or send messages. Following this transition, you will however be blocked by WhatsApp completely.
The changes are being implemented so that the app can be better integrated with Facebook who now owns WhatsApp after purchasing the company in 2014 in a deal that was worth approximately $16 billion. Facebook reasons the necessity is to enable be more cross-functionality including the integration of Facebook messenger but this has been met with widespread scepticism and concern.
The social media giant has begun a charm offensive, seeking to play down those fears but many already consider the app to be too intrusive. They have insisted that Facebook will not be able to see personal messages but the Cambridge Analytica scandal will still be fresh in people’s minds so any further trust erosion will be met with a huge backlash.
Nothing comes between you and your privacy. Messaging with a business is optional, and their chats are clearly labeled on the app. You are in control.— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) February 18, 2021
For more information, please read: https://t.co/55r1Qxv2Wi pic.twitter.com/HswXxRylHo
Those unaware of the changes will be alerted to the upcoming changes by a banner at the top of their page warning them that access will be blocked by Whatsapp after May 15. Whether this will stop the leak of customers to Telegram and Signal though is unknown but many simply consider Facebook to be too big a company and to have access to too much data.
Is this a case of the media whipping up a storm and do people really need to be fearful of the actions of Facebook? One of the main objectives of this update is to be able to allow businesses to communicate better with customers. This is already partly possible with companies such as Netflix using it to send reminders to customers but an improved version of this service could allow access to important information in a more efficient manner.
Think of the chat functions on websites that are often underutilised because they’re difficult to use on mobiles and also the amount of time you can be put on hold whilst trying to get through to customer service. This could reduce those wait times (and frustration) but is this worth the change?
“Your acceptance of the new Terms of Service does not expand WhatsApp’s ability to share user data with its parent company Facebook.”WhatsApp
WhatsApp has insisted that additional data will not be shared with Facebook and that you will be able to control whether a business can contact you but there will extensive scrutiny on whether this is true or whether being blocked by WhatsApp on May 15 will actually be fo the best.
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