WhatsApp turns to Status updates to address privacy worries

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As you might be aware, WhatsApp is in the process of updating its privacy policy for chats that involve business accounts.

Unfortunately, Facebook’s reputation as regards privacy coupled with a poorly worded privacy update pushed many users to leave WhatsApp for alternatives such as Telegram and Signal.

But now it seems as if WhatsApp is trying to win back trust, by assuring users their information will remain private. What is strange is that WhatsApp is using its Status feature to do this.

We say this is strange because we received our message in this manner on Saturday morning which meant that the message disappeared by Sunday morning.

Thankfully we did take note of the website the Status was directing us to.

On this website, WhatsApp reiterates how it protects user privacy through end-to-end encryption, the fact that messages are stored on a user’s device and the various privacy controls it provides users.

This is not going to stop with this singular Status message either, according to a report from The Verge.

“Going forward, we’re going to provide updates to people in the Status tab so people hear from WhatsApp directly. Our first update reaffirms that WhatsApp cannot see your personal messages, and neither can Facebook, because they are protected by end-to-end encryption,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told The Verge.

Since announcing the privacy policy update in January, WhatsApp has been doing damage control. Many users read the policy update as Facebook and WhatsApp sharing data and being able to see your messages with your neighbours.

While this is not the case and the privacy policy update directly impacts chats with business accounts, WhatsApp didn’t explain that well at all.

As such it has now pushed the policy update back to 15th May, though we don’t suspect folks who have left WhatsApp will return, especially if they convinced friends and family to leave as well.

Can WhatsApp turn the ship around? We very much doubt it but this has been very important lesson in making sure the lay person understands privacy policy updates. Because as we’ve seen, if they don’t understand, they will simply leave.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.

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