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WhatsApp sent out four Status messages to allay concerns on its impending privacy policy shift.
WhatsApp sent out four Status messages to allay concerns on its impending privacy policy shift.

WhatsApp launches its own Status to ease privacy concerns

Manila - No indication given that app will reverse course on move that has incensed users

By Alvin R. Cabral

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Published: Thu 28 Jan 2021, 6:02 AM

Last updated: Thu 28 Jan 2021, 8:39 AM

WhatsApp has started using its own Status feature in a bid to allay concerns on its impending privacy shift, directly engaging its users but giving no indication it will reverse course on the move that has incensed them.

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The Facebook-owned messaging service — bought for $16 billion in 2014 and was poised to be a revenue vehicle for the world's largest social media platform — announced on January 4 that it will be updating its privacy practices, saying it reserved the right to share some user data, including phone numbers and locations, across its other units such as Messenger and Instagram.

WhatsApp then began sending out in-app notifications to its users, saying they had to accept the new terms by February 8 or lose access to the service.

The move drew fire from users, the industry and even governments on fears it would cross privacy lines and also triggered a number of investigations, including from India.

It has also prompted WhatsApp users — numbering more than two billion globally — to switch to alternative apps, including Signal and Telegram.

"We'll let you know about new features and updates here," WhatsApp said on its first-ever Status posts, adding that "one thing that isn't new is our commitment to your privacy."

It also reiterated that it "can't read or listen to your personal conversations as they're end-to-end encrypted". Status messages disappear after 24 hours, a feature made popular by Snapchat.

While the move may be perceived as holding out an olive branch, WhatsApp has given no indication that it will scuttle or delay the impending move.

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