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WhatsApp's new privacy policy deadline — here's what happens if you don't accept

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(Image credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

It's clear WhatsApp isn’t backing down from its new privacy policy, but have you wondered what happens if you just don’t accept it by the deadline? Your ability to use WhatsApp is going to gradually get a lot more limited.

According to TechCrunch, WhatsApp users won’t be immediately locked out of the service, but will slowly begin to lose functionality. That’ll start with the inability to send or receive messages, and gradually get worse from there.

Users will still be able to receive calls and notifications, but only for a “limited time” after the May 15 deadline has passed. WhatsApp says that period will last a few weeks, but its policy on “inactive users” will apply after the initial deadline. That means any accounts that are inactive for more than 120 days will be deleted. 

WhatsApp’s new privacy policy was initially supposed to come into force on February 8, but the deadline was pushed back to May 15 after users pushed back. 

The terms suggested that WhatsApp would be sharing more data with parent company Facebook, which people did not like. Rumors then began to spread about how Facebook and WhatsApp would be able to access private conversations.

WhatsApp insisted that this was not the case, and that most users wouldn’t be affected by the change. The only new data being shared with Facebook relates to how users interact with businesses, so if they don’t interact with businesses then everything carries on as normal. The policy also makes existing data sharing more transparent, telling users exactly what’s being shared with Facebook and why.

It took that message to the users, explaining exactly what the upcoming privacy policy changes mean. Though none of this stopped users from jumping ship after the news initially broke. Rival services like Signal and Telegram saw a surge in new user registrations in the aftermath, with Signal struggling to keep up with the new demand.

If you are happy accepting WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, you might as well do it now. You can still accept it after the May 15 deadline, but obviously you’ll lose access to all your messages in the interim. If you’re not happy with it, check out our list of the best WhatsApp alternatives and our guide on how to switch from WhatsApp to Signal.

Tom Pritchard

Tom covers a little bit of everything at Tom’s Guide, ranging from the latest electric cars all the way down to hot takes on why Christopher Nolan is wrong about everything. Appliances are also muscling their way into his routine, which is a pretty long way from his days as Editor at Gizmodo UK. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.