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After backlash, WhatsApp clarifies its new privacy policy

Almost a week after its updated privacy policy led to an exodus of sorts to other messaging platforms, WhatsApp on Tuesday clarified that the policy update was only related to messaging a business on WhatsApp and does not affect the privacy of messages with family and friends. “We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.

Reiterating that the messages on the popular messaging service are end-to-end encrypted, it said neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see the private messages or hear the calls “with your friends, family, and co-workers on WhatsApp.” We will never weaken this security, it added.

The Facebook-owned messaging service also reminded that it does not keep logs of who everyone is messaging or calling, unlike traditionally mobile carriers and operators.

It further shared a list of information “NOT shared with Facebook”.

WhatsApp cannot see your shared location and neither can Facebook: When you share your location with someone on WhatsApp, your location is protected by end-to-end encryption, which means no one can see your location except the people you share it with.

WhatsApp does not share your contacts with Facebook: When you give us permission, we access only the phone numbers from your address book to make messaging fast and reliable, and we don’t share your contacts lists with the other apps Facebook offers.

WhatsApp groups remains private: We use group membership to deliver messages and to protect our service from spam and abuse. We don’t share this data with Facebook for ads purposes. Again, these private chats are end-to-end encrypted so we can’t see their content.

You can set your messages to disappear: For additional privacy, you can choose to set your messages to disappear from chats after you send them.

You can download your data: You can download and see what information we have on your account right from within the app.

This is the second clarification issued by WhatsApp after it revamped its privacy policy stating it will share data with its parent company Facebook. It is mandatory for the user to accept the new terms of use, failing which the user’s account would be deleted when the policy comes into effect on February 8.

Privacy concerns and fear of security breach have prompted people to weigh other messaging apps, such as Signal and Telegram which either do not collect any data, or just basic user information. The Week

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