the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Alice Liu ’23
Image Credit: Daily Express
Since the announcement of the new policy in January, WhatsApp has faced tremendous backlash. Many WhatsApp users interpreted the update as an indication that the company would exploit their private conversations and personal data. This interpretation spread on social media and caused the company to lose millions of users. Out of concern for their privacy, many users have opted for alternatives such as Signal and Telegram. Tweets from Elon Musk, advocating for the two alternative platforms, further spurred Whatsapp users to quit the app.
Amid the mass commotion, WhatsApp decided to push the launch of the new policy from February to May. The company is currently working on explaining its new policy to users. WhatsApp said, "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.” Niamh Sweeney, WhatsApp’s director of public policy for Europe, added that “there are no changes to our data sharing with Facebook anywhere in the world.” The company ensured users that protecting personal data remains a priority and that private conversations will not be spied on; however, the company did not specify whether personal data, such as phone numbers and locations, will be protected.
The current interpretations of WhatsApp’s new policy remain in conflict. While The New York Times claims that the company’s change merely allows users to message businesses and that users are misinterpreting the new policy, other media outlets such as The Insider and The Guardian point out that the new policy allows businesses to collect WhatsApp users’ data. To fully understand the changes and consequences of the new policy, it is likely users will need to wait until its implementation in May.