WhatsApp shares plans for new privacy policy

The Facebook-owned company faced plenty of backlash for the upcoming rollout, due to privacy concerns.

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Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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2 min read

WhatsApp is working to correct what it calls "a great deal of misinformation" about an upcoming privacy update.

Angela Lang/CNET

After facing a slew of backlash following the announcement of an updated privacy policy, WhatsApp on Thursday shared more information on what users will see leading up to the rollout. The Facebook-owned messaging platform wrote in a blog post that it'll "display a banner in WhatsApp providing more information that people can read at their own pace" in the coming weeks. It'll eventually start reminding users to review and accept the updates in order to keep using the app.

Under the updated policy, businesses have the option to use "secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions, and send helpful information like purchase receipts," WhatsApp has said. If you communicate with a business, it can see what you're saying and then use that information for marketing, which could include advertising on Facebook. WhatsApp says it clearly labels conversations with businesses that use Facebook's hosting services. 

In an FAQ published last month, WhatsApp responded to concerns that it shares personal information with Facebook. The firm noted the update doesn't affect the privacy of messages with friends and family, and instead relates only to messaging businesses through the platform. WhatsApp also said the update "provides further transparency about how we collect and use data." 

Still, the company faced enough backlash to force it to delay the update last month, following calls from users to switch to other encrypted apps like Signal and Telegram. Users have until May 15 to review and accept WhatsApp's new policy.

"We believe people are looking for apps to be both reliable and safe, even if that requires WhatsApp having some limited data," the company said in the Thursday blog post. "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."

The company again noted that personal messages will remain end-to-end encrypted, so WhatsApp won't be able to read or listen to them. The platform is sharing updates directly within its Status feature, and says it will "be doing much more to make our voice clear going forward." It also added more information to its FAQ about the update to address privacy concerns.