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WhatsApp says users’ accounts will not be suspended or deleted on February 8

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WhatsApp has announced a three-month delay of a new privacy policy which was planned to go into effect on February 8

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WHATSAPP has announced a three-month delay of a new privacy policy which was planned to go into effect on February 8 following widespread confusion over whether the new policy would mandate data sharing with Facebook.

According to recent WhatsApp communication, the update does not in fact affect data sharing with Facebook with regard to user chats or other profile information; WhatsApp has been at pains to clarify that its update addresses business chats in the event that a user converses with a company’s customer service platform through WhatsApp.

In a statement, WhatsApp said: “We’ve heard from so many people how much confusion there is around our recent update. There’s been a lot of misinformation causing concern and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts.”

The messaging platform which is now under the control of a Facebook group of companies will go back to the drawing board to figure out a way to communicate its plans in a way that will hopefully make sense to users.

A statement released on Friday went on to say: “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.

“We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security work 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.”

This comes after a huge number of users have migrated to more privacy-conscious messaging platforms such as Telegram and Signal.

WhatsApp has indicated that the policy won’t be changing when it does come out.

The company indicated that the intent of the update is communicating to users that messages with businesses on WhatsApp may be stored on Facebook servers, which necessitates data sharing between the two companies (that data, WhatsApp says, can be used for businesses for advertising, but Facebook does not share it across its apps automatically).

Users now have an opportunity to better understand the update and make up their minds about continuing to use the platform or to leave. WhatsApp still intends to release the update on May 15 to coincide with new business chat features.

* This article was originally published in Fast Company (SA).