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WhatsApp trying again with new terms of service

Facebook-owned WhatsApp will make another attempt to get users to accept its earlier controversial new terms of service. The company  says deadline is May 15.

If you have not accepted the terms by then, the company says it will begin to turn off features until you do. When the company some months ago tried to make users accept the terms, competitors were flooded by WhatsApp users wanting to change for another app.

“After a few weeks of limited functionality, you won’t be able to receive incoming calls or notifications and WhatsApp will stop sending messages and calls to your phone,” the company said. Basically the new terms means the app will share more data with Facebook for business-specific actions within the messaging platform. The idea is to better enable e-commerce.

In January, millions of users downloaded alternative apps – mainly Signal, Viber and Telegram – when WhatsApp had announced that the new terms would come into effect on 8 February.

WhatsApp delayed the update, downplaying the new agreement saying it was simply focused on a new set of features letting users message businesses on the app. “There are no changes to our data sharing with Facebook anywhere in the world,” said Niamh Sweeney, WhatsApp’s director of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

In Germany, Hamburg’s privacy authority has issued a three-month emergency ban on the new terms coming into effect, saying they are opaque, inconsistent and overly broad. Facebook said the authority’s statement was “based on a fundamental misunderstanding” of the update.

“We also think it’s important people know how we can provide WhatsApp for free. 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”, Facebook said.

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