Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

What will happen to your WhatsApp account if you don’t agree to the new privacy changes

Published Feb 22nd, 2021 6:50AM EST
WhatsApp Privacy Policy
Image: REDPIXEL/Adobe

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

  • Facebook explained what will happen to WhatsApp users who do not agree to the new privacy policy changes to allow WhatsApp to share more data with Facebook.
  • If a person does not accept the new terms by May 15th, WhatsApp functionality will be significantly reduced.
  • Calls and notifications will work for a short time, but the core instant messaging features will be blocked.

Facebook is going forward with its controversial WhatsApp privacy policy change despite the backlash. Facebook continues to explain the changes, insisting that WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption that protects calls and chats isn’t going away. But Facebook doesn’t provide clarity on what sort of personal data WhatsApp will share with Facebook, nor does it explain why the privacy changes are mandatory for users. The new terms are meant to govern optional commerce features that not all WhatsApp users will necessarily take advantage of. Facebook’s privacy policy warnings from early January only gave users the option of agreeing to the changes. There was no opt-out option in it. That’s not going to change going forward. WhatsApp explained exactly what will happen to your account should you not want to agree to the new policy.

Users will have to accept the new privacy changes by May 15th, when the new policy will go into effect. Facebook explained in an email to merchant partners that TechCrunch saw what would happen in the coming months.

WhatsApp will “slowly ask” users to comply with the new terms “in order to have full functionality of WhatsApp” come May 15th. If users decide not to accept the terms, WhatsApp will limit the app’s functionality. “For a short time, these users will be able to receive calls and notifications but will not be able to read or send messages from the app,” the email says. Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch that the email accurately characterizes its plans.

Moreover, WhatsApp has a new FAQ section that explains exactly what happens on May 15th. The page contains language similar to the note that TechCrunch saw.

Facebook explains that users will still be able to accept the policy after May 15th. WhatsApp accounts will not be deleted immediately, but the company will enforce its policy related to inactive users after May 15th. Inactive accounts are deleted after 120 days.

Interestingly, a Facebook spokesperson said in early January that the WhatsApp changes would not impact European users when it comes to data sharing:

There are no changes to WhatsApp’s data sharing practices in the European region (including UK) arising from the updated Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. For the avoidance of any doubt, it is still the case that WhatsApp does not share European region WhatsApp user data with Facebook for the purpose of Facebook using this data to improve its products or advertisements.

But all WhatsApp users will need to agree to the changes, regardless of where they’re located, to continue using the app after May 15th.

In the new FAQ section, Facebook explains how to export data from iPhone and Android in case users want to terminate their accounts.

Separately, Telegram offers users the option of importing all their WhatsApp chats. Telegram and Signal have seen a surge in downloads in early February, as users flocked to download a WhatsApp alternative. Only Signal offers full end-to-end encryption, however. On Telegram, users have to enable it for each chat.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.