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WhatsApp has started to display a banner within the app “providing more information that people can read at their own pace.” There are essentially three points that it is highlighting in all its communications:
- The update does not affect the privacy of your messages with your friends and family in any way.
- It does not expand its ability to share data with parent firm Facebook anywhere in the world (WhatsApp has been sharing some user data like phone numbers with Facebook since 2016).
- The changes only apply to messaging between businesses and their customers. Interactions with businesses — which will be opt in — on the platform will be available only to the recipient party for further use rather than being used for targeted advertising by Facebook.
So, what exactly happens on/after May 15?
WhatsApp has started reminding users to review and accept its policy update and it will continue to do that for an undisclosed period of time. After a “period of several weeks,” these reminders will become “persistent” which is when the app will start to have limited functionality. WhatsApp notes that this timeline will vary for users.
You won’t be able to access your chat list (presumably this will be replaced by a permanent update banner without a skip option) but you will still be able to answer incoming audio and video calls, even read and respond to a message or call back a missed call from your notification shade (provided notifications are enabled on your device). After a few weeks, you will lose all functionality: “you won’t be able to receive incoming calls or notifications and WhatsApp will stop sending messages and calls to your phone.”
Again, WhatsApp “won’t delete your account” even at this stage, but it eventually might, since it is quick to note that at this stage, “our existing policy related to inactive users will apply.” WhatsApp says it generally deletes accounts after 120 days of inactivity. And even if it doesn’t, the app will serve no real-world purpose at this point of time anyway — which is why WhatsApp also tells you how to export your chats and download a report of your account in the same FAQ page.
New users are expected to agree to WhatsApp’s new terms and conditions if they sign-up on or after May 15.