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WhatsApp postpones new privacy policy amid ‘confusion’

WhatsApp on Friday announced a three-month delay of a new privacy policy originally slated to go into effect on February 8th following widespread confusion over whether the new policy would mandate data sharing with Facebook.

The update does not in fact affect data sharing with Facebook with regard to user chats or other profile information; WhatsApp has repeatedly clarified that its update addresses business chats in the event a user converses with a company’s customer service platform through WhatsApp.

“We’ve heard from so many people how much confusion there is around our recent update,” the company wrote in an update. “There’s been a lot of misinformation causing concern and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts.” The company said it remains committed to end-to-end encryption and that “this update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook.”

WhatsApp’s decision to delay the new policy comes after the company abruptly introduced privacy changes earlier this month with a pop-up warning that users could accept the new policy by Feb. 8, or lose their ability to use the app altogether. The new terms address the company’s recent focus on business messaging, a feature that’s widely used in many places outside the US. But the warning alarmed many users, who interpreted the changes as Facebook tightening its grip over their data.

Now, WhatsApp is walking back some of its previous messaging. “We’re now moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms,” the company says. “No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8. We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15.”

Even with the delay, WhatsApp may find it difficult to reverse the damage that’s already been done. Encrypted messaging app Signal which is now backed by one of WhatsApp’s original founders who has turned into a vocal critic of Facebook in recent years has seen a wave of new users since WhatsApp’s bungled privacy announcement

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