Facebook announced plans to update the WhatsApp terms of services last October, but it was WhatsApp’s subsequent notifications in early 2021 that shocked users, telling them they’ll have to agree to share more data with Facebook or risk losing access to WhatsApp. The backlash was immediate and brutal, with millions of people downloading competing chat apps like Signal and Telegram in January. Facebook mounted a massive defense, delaying the terms of service change deadline to May 15th in order to better explain the planned changes.
Now that the deadline has arrived, your options are limited. You can accept the new terms and continue using WhatsApp just like before, or you can ignore the prompt and either delete the app or use it in a significantly limited capacity.
Facebook has never truly explained what sort of data will collect or why it needs that data, causing plenty of confusion in the process. The e-commerce user data that Facebook wants from WhatsApp will only be there if users choose to use WhatsApp as a vehicle for buying goods or staying in touch with companies.
Going forward, WhatsApp users will be able to browse catalogs of products from small businesses, contact companies, and complete purchases. All of that will happen inside the app while Facebook undoubtedly gathers plenty of data.
Users who disagree with the new terms will no longer be able to take advantage of some WhatsApp features. Starting Saturday, they’ll be unable to dismiss the screen that asks them to accept the new terms. They’ll still receive calls, but replying to messages is only possible via notifications. In the future, even those limited features might go away to the point where the app would be unusable.
A German regulator has already issued an injunction, looking to prevent Facebook from processing WhatsApp data in the country. Facebook contested the order, saying that it will still roll out the new privacy feature. The German watchdog urged peers from other European countries to take similar action.