In a statement published on its website, WhatsApp said that it had previously encountered a ‘great deal of misinformation’ about this update and said it will ‘continue to work hard’ to clear up any confusion.
“As a reminder, we’re building new ways to chat or shop with a business on WhatsApp that are entirely optional. Personal messages will always be end-to-end encrypted, so WhatsApp can’t read or listen to them.
“We’ve reflected on what we could have done better here. We want everyone to know our history of defending end-to-end encryption and trust we’re committed to protecting people’s privacy and security.
The group said it will use its ‘status’ feature to share values and updates directly within WhatsApp.
“In the coming weeks, the group said it will display a banner in WhatsApp providing more information that people can read at their own pace. WhatsApp said it has also included more information to try and address concerns its heard.
“Eventually, we’ll start reminding people to review and accept these updates to keep using WhatsApp.”
The company further stressed that WhatsApp and Facebook cannot read or listen to personal conversations as they are end-to-end encrypted.
Criticism of competitors
WhatsApp has now highlighted that competitors, like Telegram, do not offer end-to-end encryption by default, and thus offer less privacy.
“We’ve seen some of our competitors try to get away with claiming they can’t see people’s messages – if an app doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption by default that means they can read your messages.
It added that it still offers messaging to individual users for free, and the privacy changes are directed at helping users engage with businesses – which remains optional.
“Every day millions of people start a WhatsApp chat with a business because it’s easier to do so than placing a phone call or exchanging emails. We charge businesses to provide customer service on WhatsApp – not people.
“Some shopping features involve Facebook so that businesses can manage their inventory across apps. We display more information directly in WhatsApp so people can choose if they want to engage with businesses, or not.”
WhatsApp said it will not give your number to a business, and its policies prohibit businesses from contacting you on WhatsApp without first receiving your approval to do so.
“It’s your choice whether you chat with a business on WhatsApp, and you can block or remove them from your contact list.”