WhatsApp on Saturday said that its latest update describes business communication and does not change its data-sharing practices with Facebook. The company is owned by social media giant Facebook.
It had stated that users will have to agree to the new terms and policy by February 8, 2021, in order to continue using the messaging service. This led to criticism over WhatsApp’s alleged information sharing with Facebook.
Will Cathcart, the head of WhatsApp, defended the move. “It’s important for us to be clear this update describes business communication and does not change WhatsApp’s data sharing practices with Facebook,” he said in a series of tweets. “It does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family wherever they are in the world.”
Cathcart clarified that the platform as well as Facebook cannot see private chats and calls because of the end-to-end encryption. “We’re committed to this technology and committed to defending it globally,” he said.
He pointed out that businesses want tools to quickly and effectively respond to messages. “It’s too hard today and features like Shops and Pay can help people buy things they want from businesses on WhatsApp,” he said, defending the company’s policy decision.
Following the policy decision, WhatsApp is facing strong competition from rival platforms. Both Signal and Telegram are witnessing an increased demand, according to Reuters.
Tesla chief Elon Musk urged people to join Signal, another cross-platform encrypted messaging service. Signal’s popularity rose after being endorsed by Musk, who has over 41.7 million (4.17 crore) followers. More than a lakh users installed Signal in the last two days, while Telegram picked up nearly 22 lakh downloads, according to data analytics firm Sensor Tower.
Downloads of WhatsApp also fell by 11% in the first seven days of 2021 as compared with last week, Sensor Tower said, adding that it still amounted to about 10.5 million downloads globally.
Signal also went to mock WhatsApp on Twitter. “Look at what you’ve done,” the company tweeted along with photos of a picture of the app showing as the No.1 free app on the app stores across markets like India, Germany, France, Austria, Finland, Hong Kong and Switzerland.
“There are no Terms of Service for a mother’s love,” it said in another tweet, mocking WhatsApp.
Telegram Chief Executive Pavel Durov alleged that WhatsApp has switched to covert marketing and that it has detected bots that were spreading inaccurate information about Telegram on social media. He also clarified that “myths” that Telegram’s code was not open-source, that the company was Russian and that the platform is not encrypted were are all incorrect.