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In December 2020, WhatsApp asked users to agree to updated terms of service which would allow it to share personal data to Facebook, threatening to block access to the app should anyone fail to comply by February 8.
Both companies are owned by Mark Zuckerberg, one of world’s richest men.
But that has led to a backlash, with users shifting to rival platforms such as Telegram and Signal. Telegram got 25 million new users in 72 hours last week. Signal has had almost 1 million people installing the app each day since early-to-mid January. Signal’s downloads two weeks ago hit 7.5 million, a 4,200 percent growth from the previous week.
But WhatsApp has intervened to halt loss of users.
“We’ve heard from so many people how much confusion there is around our recent update,” WhatsApp said in a post on Friday.
“There’s been a lot of misinformation causing concern and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts,” it noted.
WhatsApp posted on Twitter on Friday that no one’s account would be suspended on February 8.
“Thank you to everyone who’s reached out. We’re still working to counter any confusion by communicating directly with WhatsApp
users. No one will have their account suspended or deleted on Feb 8 and we’ll be moving back our business plans until after May.”
WhatsApp noted that neither it nor Facebook would see users’ private messages, people’s shared locations and would not share users’ contacts with Facebook.
WhatsApp chief executive officer Will Cathcart had said on Twitter on January 8 that the update would not affect how people communicated.
”It’s important for us to be clear this update describes business communication and does not change WhatsApp’s data-sharing practices with Facebook. It does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family wherever they are in the world,” he said.
Some Twitter users, however, said that WhatsApp’s intervention was too little, too late.
“Too late for that now. The damage has been done,” Sadia Sheikh, with a handle @iSadiaSheikh, said in response to WhatsApp post on Friday.
“Sorry, we have already migrated, all the family and all the friends, to another platform. You should have thought things through before selling our privacy and doing business with it. Bye-bye WhatsApp,” one Twitter user with the handle @tebanrhcp said.
Another user with the handle @Alieidjr1 said, “We already went to Signal and Bip. No more abuse.”
However, a Twitter user with the handle @iTechUOutGuy said, “I’m not deleting the app. Nothing is happening to my account. I’m not feeling vulnerable or scared or threat. People don’t get it. Keep bringing us the latest and greatest features to a messaging system. All of my calls and messages are encrypted. Thanks team WhatsApp.”