WhatsApp plans to hold features for ransom until you accept privacy terms

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

WhatsApp users are being presented with something of a good news-bad news situation from the Facebook-owned chat app. A May 15 deadline to accept new privacy terms for WhatsApp is no longer going to be enforced. But users will eventually have to agree to the policy or slowly lose access to WhatsApp features.

As you may remember, WhatsApp rolled out a new privacy policy at the start of the year that would have shared data with Facebook, removing the ability to opt out. As you might imagine, that sparked some controversy among WhatsApp users, some of whom dropped the chat service. Those that remained were supposed to have a May 15 deadline for accepting the policy or have their accounts deleted.

Now, WhatsApp says the deadline’s no longer a hard and fast one, at least according to the FAQ the company posted. “No one will have their accounts deleted or lose functionality of WhatsApp on May 15,” the FAQ says.

Instead, if you don’t agree to WhatsApp’s privacy policy, you’ll start getting what the company calls “persistent reminders” — basically a nag that will appear every time you log into the app.

WhatsApp privacy policy

WhatsApp posted what to expect if you don't agree to its new privacy policy (Image credit: WhatsApp)

But that will eventually change after a few weeks. At that point, you’ll still be able to answer incoming calls phone and video calls through WhatsApp, but you’ll lose access to your chat list. Anyone with notifications turned on can tap those in order to read messages and respond to them. 

However, if you still don’t agree to the privacy policy after that, a few weeks later, the incoming calls and notifications will stop, too. WhatsApp says it won’t delete your account if you don’t accept the privacy update.

Right now, there isn't any way to accept the new privacy policy and remove consent later, and there isn't a way to avoid being affected by it. If you want to continue using the app, it seems this is the only way, at least for now.  

Brittany Vincent

Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over 13 years for publications including Tom's Guide, MTV, Rolling Stone, CNN, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and more. She's also appeared as a panelist at video game conventions like PAX East and PAX West and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she's not writing or gaming, she's looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.