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New WhatsApp policy comes into effect in 10 days, here is a reminder of what happens if you don't accept

WhatsApp rolled out a new privacy policy earlier this year that made it mandatory for users to accept new terms of service if they want to continue using the messaging platform.

twitter-logoManas Tiwari | May 5, 2021 | Updated 12:45 IST
WhatsApp
Facebook has maintained that nothing changes for the normal users.

Highlights

  • New WhatsApp policy comes into effect on May 15.
  • WhatsApp had pushed the roll out by three months.
  • Users who don't accept will get restricted access.

WhatsApp was at the left, right and centre of criticism when it announced a new privacy policy earlier this year that made it mandatory for users to accept new terms of service if they want to continue using the messaging platform. Clearly, users were not happy some of them moved to other platforms like Signal and Telegram others just took to social media to express anger but, continue to use WhatsApp. The Facebook-owned platform decided to push the roll-out by three months, promising that it will use this time to educate users but, has largely remained silent.

"We'll be doing much more to make our voice clear going forward," WhatsApp had said. All it has done in this period is publish a few blogs and push banners on the app, telling users that they are yet to agree to the terms that will come into effect on May 15. The banner continues to read that users will have to accept these guidelines "to continue using WhatsApp after this date."

Facebook has maintained that nothing changes for the normal users even if they accept the new policy and its only users who interact with business over WhatsApp will have different rules. The messaging app has reassured that WhatsApp cannot read the private conversations of users because they are end-to-end encrypted. And they would remain that way even after the new update is rolled out.

However, it's the nature of roll-out and users' helplessness to opt out of the new policy that has raised questions over major platforms that collect user data.

The bigger question What happens in 10 days' time? What if you don't accept the new terms by May 15?

WhatsApp has assured that it won't delete your account, even though the initial policy suggested the same. Instead, it says that "you won't have full functionality of WhatsApp until you accept; for a short time, you'll be able to receive calls and notifications, but won't be able to read or send messages."

How much is that short time? What will users have to do to re-activate their account? We don't know. The guess is you will have to accept the policy. So, either way, users are trapped.

Interestingly, WhatsApp hasn't explained how the user experience will look like during this so called 'short period'. You will see the messages coming in but won't be able to read them or reply to them or send anything new. So, will there be a new UI or the same UI with restrictions? We have no idea. Surely, the warnings and prompts will go up in the next ten days.

"Other apps say they're better because they know even less information than WhatsApp. We believe people are looking for apps to be both reliable and safe, even if that requires WhatsApp having some limited data," WhatsApp had said.

Surprisingly, the buzz around both Telegram and Signal that promise to be more secure WhatsApp alternatives has settled as well. The lack of users on both these platforms and dependency on WhatsApp has forced users to stick to the latter.

However, they might take headlines once again as we near May 15. Facebook has admitted that one of its biggest mistakes was announcing the new update as an in-app alert which should have been first communicated to users and explained. Sadly, it hasn't done much in the past three months, hoping for the dust to settle on its own. It will be better if WhatsApp or Facebook comes up with better ways before May 15 to explain its new policy or it might face a similar reaction as in January this year.

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