WhatsApp´s message to billions of users that they have to accept new terms and conditions if they want to continue using the for free service has led to booming growth for competitors like Signal, Telegram and other free messaging services when worried users plan to leave WhatsApp and are downloading new alternatives. The turmoil has led to WhatsApp prolonging the deadline to agree to the new rules from February 8 until May 15. WhatsApp is ensuring EU and UK users that the data WhatsApp is sharing with its owner, Facebook, do not include messages, groups or call logs.
“Millions upon millions of new users are sending a message that privacy matters,” Signal said in a tweet adding that the company is installing more and more servers to take care of all new users.
WhatsApp said sharing data with Facebook is not new and that the sharing is not being expanded. It said there had been “confusion” about its message, which initially gave people until 8 February to accept its updated terms or stop using the service. The company said it will use the extended deadline for approvals to sort out problems with misinformation. In a blog post, WhatsApp said “We can´t see your private messages or hear your calls and neither can Facebook”.
A legal challenge based on privacy grounds has been filed against WhatsApp in India that is the service´s biggest market. The Guardian’s technology editor, Alex Hern, said the changes aren’t huge, but do mark a step down the road of a long-term plan to integrate the chat app with Facebook.
According to the BBC, WhatsApp shares the following information with its owner Facebook:
- phone number and other information provided on registration (such as name)
- information about the user’s phone, including make, model, and mobile company
- internet protocol (IP) addresses, which indicate the location of a user’s internet connections
- any payments and financial transactions made over WhatsApp