But on Friday, WhatsApp said it was postponing the plan amid an apparent user exodus. “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 works on WhatsApp,” the service said in a blog post.
The heart of the problem is trust (or the lack of it). WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which has a notorious record on digital privacy. The social network has repeatedly tried to clarify that the updated WhatsApp policy will not result in real changes for users. But many refuse to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt.
This became apparent last week when Telsa CEO Elon Musk urged his followers on Twitter to use competing messaging app Signal. Since then, Signal has seen a massive influx of new users, numbering in the tens of millions.
On Friday, WhatsApp reiterated that it will continue to use end-to-end encryption, meaning no one—not even Facebook—will be able to read your messages. “We also can’t see your shared location and we don’t share your contacts with Facebook,” the app added.
The company went on to say the policy update itself deals primarily with businesses using WhatsApp to send and store messages with consumers. “This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook,” it added.