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Commitment to privacy for WhatsApp is absolute: Facebook's Ajit Mohan

While saying that the company could have done a better job of explaining the policy changes to users, Mohan said WhatsApp was extremely transparent about the changes.

twitter-logoBusinessToday.In | February 11, 2021 | Updated 18:08 IST
Commitment to privacy for WhatsApp is absolute: Facebook's Ajit Mohan
In January, WhatsApp had come out with an update in its privacy policy and terms of service.

Amidst the uproar over the changes in WhatsApp's terms of service, Facebook India Vice President and Managing Director Ajit Mohan on Thursday said the company is absolutely committed to privacy for its messaging app.

"The commitment to encryption on WhatsApp and privacy is absolute. We cannot read your messages. We cannot read anyone's messages. That has always been true and that will always remain true," he said at India Today Conclave East.

In January, WhatsApp had come out with an update in its privacy policy and terms of service that required users to agree to sharing of their data of chat with business accounts, payments and transaction information with its parent company Facebook and third parties associated with it.

After criticism from users over sharing of their data, the company postponed the rollout of the policy update to May 15 from February 8.

While saying that the company could have done a better job of explaining the policy changes to users, Mohan said WhatsApp was extremely transparent about the changes and raised the bar for transparency in internet.

"Having said all of that...I think we could've done a better job in terms of how we rolled out the changes in the privacy policy," Mohan added.

Also read: Do business in India but follow laws too, Ravi Shankar Prasad to Twitter

Responding to a question on the tussle between the Indian government and micro-blogging platform Twitter, he said while the company has a responsibility to make sure that its social media platforms allow free expression, it also has to take all possible steps to reduce harm through the platforms.

He said the company's community standards help it in identifying the behaviour which is not allowed on its platforms.

"And a lot of our community standards were developed over the years with inputs from multiple stakeholders, including governments around the world, that allows us to create these canvases for expression, especially in a democratic country like India, while equally allowing us to play the responsibility we have to keep users safe," Mohan said.

Besides, there are established protocols for engaging with the government and its orders, he said, adding that as a responsible company, Facebook "absolutely" respects Indian law.

Union IT and Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said that all social media platforms are welcome to work in India, but they will have to adhere to Indian laws.

Speaking in Rajya Sabha, Prasad said the government respects social media a lot, which has empowered common people. "Social media has a big role in the Digital India programme. However, if social media is misused to spread fake news, violence then action will be taken."

The government is miffed with Twitter over its inaction on accounts red flagged by the IT Ministry for spreading misinformation during the ongoing farmer protests.

Also read: MeitY welcomes Twitter to India, keeps it on a short leash though

Also read: WhatsApp new features expected: From video and voice calls on desktop, mute video, and multi-device support

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