Facebook-owned Whatsapp company saw a huge setback when their users moved to rival platforms like Signal and Telegram.
The move assumes significance for users in India given that the country is among the biggest markets for WhatsApp with over 400 million users.
According to the company blog, Whasapp has made clarifications on the update and the security concerns. It said that the update does not affect data sharing with Facebook with regard to personal conversations or other profile information and only meant for 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. There's been a lot of misinformation causing concern and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts," WhatsApp said in a company blog.
"WhatsApp was built on a simple idea: what you share with your friends and family stays between you. This means we will always protect your personal conversations with end-to-end encryption, so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see these private messages. It's why we don't keep logs of who everyone's messaging or calling. We also can't see your shared location and we don’t share your contacts with Facebook," it said further.
Asserting that none of that changes, the company said, "The update includes new options people will have to message a business on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data. While not everyone shops with a business on WhatsApp today, we think that more people will choose to do so in the future and it's important people are aware of these services. This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook."
The company said it was 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. We'll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15," it added.
The company released a separate blog post Friday trying to clear up the confusion, and it included a chart that specifies what information is protected when someone uses WhatsApp.
Facebook executives, including Instagram chief Adam Mosseri and WhatsApp head Will Cathcart, also used Twitter to try and clear up the confusion.
Facebook’s poor privacy track record, and the fact that WhatsApp has over time turned its sights on monetising the platform for its large international user base, has eroded trust in the chat app, which, in turn, has had the effect of turning a relatively mundane update into a worldwide controversy.
WhatsApp now says it is now going to use the three-month delay to better communicate both the changes in its new policy and its long-standing privacy practices around personal chats, location sharing, and other sensitive data.
"We're now moving back the date on which people will be asked to review and accept the terms," the blog post reads.
The company said no one will be losing access to the app if they didn't agree to the new terms of service agreement that communicated the changes earlier this month.
"We're also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp. We'll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15," it added.
India remains a critical market for Internet companies like Facebook with its large population base and burgeoning Internet adoption. The country is the world's second-largest telecom market and the biggest consumer of data. As on October 30, 2020, the total telephone connections stood at 117 crore, of which 115 crore were mobile connections.
"The changes are related to optional business features on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data...The updates related to optional business features are a part of our broader efforts to make communicating with a business secure, better, and easier for everyone," it added.
WhatsApp rival Telegram has added 25 million new users in the last few days and while it did not specify India-specific user numbers, it said 38 per cent of the new users are from Asia, followed by Europe (27 per cent), Latin America (21 per cent) and MENA (the Middle East and North Africa at 8 per cent).
With PTI Inputs