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All of this started after reports that WhatsApp would be changing how it shares data with parent company Facebook, and that all users would have to accept — even if they’d opted out in the past. This led to rumors spreading that WhatsApp would be sharing contents of messages and contact lists with Facebook, which a lot of people were angry about.
Since then WhatsApp has tried to make it clear that messages will remain encrypted, and their contents hidden, while neither it or Facebook would be able to access call logs, locations, or contact lists. But that hasn’t stopped millions fleeing to services like Signal and Telegram, to the point where Signal struggled to cope and was down for much of the weekend.
What's really going on with WhatsApp privacy?
The new May 15 deadline has been put in place to give people more time to understand the new policy changes. WhatsApp insists that it’s not changed the way it treats private conversations, and only chats with businesses which lead to more data being shared with Facebook.
Specifically, this means data would only be shared if the business you’re talking to uses Facebook’s hosting services, or if you’re making payments through WhatsApp. Likewise, it means businesses can include a WhatsApp button on their Facebook page so you can contact them through Facebook itself.
Whether that will be enough to stop people leaving the platform is another thing entirely. This whole situation has reminded people that Facebook owns WhatsApp, and there’s always the chance the relationship between the two will get stronger. This was reinforced by Apple’s app store policy change, which revealed exactly how much data both WhatsApp and other Facebook apps have access to.