On Tuesday, WhatsApp tried to convince its two billion customers that their intimate messages to friends and relatives would stay confidential after an amendment on its terms of service raised eyebrows on social media and was attacked by supporters of digital rights.
Unveiled on Wednesday, the latest privacy terms of WhatsApp reserve the freedom to share user details with its parent Facebook Inc and units such as Instagram and Messenger, including location and phone number.
The change citing Facebook’s track record of managing user data has been criticised by privacy activists, with many recommending that users switch to sites such as Telegram and Signal.
The messaging app tried to counter “some of the rumours going around” in a tweet, saying that the new privacy policies did not impact the wellbeing of regular conversations.
The organisation added, “We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way,” “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.”
Despite the change, WhatsApp said neither it nor Facebook could read messages from users or listen to their calls with friends, relatives or co-workers. “Whatever you share, it stays between you,” it added, reiterating that confidential communications from users is protected by end-to-end encryption.
The app owned by Facebook Inc said it still did not maintain track on who people were texting or calling and neither it nor Facebook could see a user’s location exchanged with others on WhatsApp by them.
“When you share your location with someone on WhatsApp, your location is protected by end-to-end encryption, which means no one can see your location except the people you share it with,” he stressed.
Whatsapp said it would not share with Facebook the contact lists of users on their phones.
Groups, according to the organisation, remain private, too. “We use community membership to send notifications and defend our service from spam and harassment. For advertisement purposes, we do not share this data with Facebook,
For added protection, WhatsApp said, after sending them, users may opt to configure their messages to vanish from chats.
WhatsApp said messaging with corporations was “different than messaging with your family or friends” in describing the new terminology.
We give businesses the ability to use Facebook’s safe hosting services to handle their customers’ WhatsApp chats, answer questions, and share useful information such as sales receipts. So if you connect with an organisation by phone, email, or WhatsApp, it can see what you’re saying and can use the information for its own marketing purposes, including Facs ads.
To guarantee that you are aware, we specifically mark conversations with companies that want to use Facebook hosting services,”To make sure you’re informed, we clearly label conversations with businesses that are choosing to use hosting services from Facebook,”
Following the change to the privacy policies of WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram have seen a sudden rise in demand.
According to data from research company Apptopia, about 810,000 users globally installed Signal on Sunday, almost 18-fold compared with the download figures on January 6, the day WhatsApp changed its privacy terms. The statistic is on target to reach a million.
According to Apptopia, WhatsApp, which saw a seven percent reduction in regular downloads on Sunday relative to Wednesday, was downloaded by almost 1.2 million users on Jan 10.