WhatsApp’s New Privacy Policy and What It Means for Businesses

By Opeyemi Solaru

Over the past decade, Whatsapp has become a household name, as it revolutionized communication on a global scale. Messages that were once considered costly, can now be sent within seconds at no additional cost. Recently, Whatsapp announced that it would be amending its privacy policy. The new policy mostly affects business accounts, as it will use “business conversations” for advertising purposes. They have assured users that all messages are still end-to-end encrypted and that there is no access to personal messages or location.

Users have been very vocal about their dissatisfaction with this new policy, stating that it is an invasion of privacy. Whatsapp extended the deadline to accept the policy till the 15th of May to give people time to decide whether or not they were willing to accept. Initially, many believed that following the May 15th deadline, functionality on the app would be limited. However, currently, Whatsapp states that functionality will not change. Instead, reminders would be sent out periodically to remind users to consider adopting the new privacy policy.

Many have already resorted to using rival messaging platforms, such as Signal and Telegram. The Indian government even went so far as to file a petition against Whatsapp, claiming that the policy is a threat to both personal and national safety.

As a business owner using Whatsapp, concerns are sure to arise. WhatsApp has included in its FAQ section that once businesses engage with third parties, known as Business Solution Providers, the end-to-end encryption is no longer in effect. For context, Business Solution Providers use this information retrieved to improve marketing tools on Facebook. On one end, this is ideally a great idea for businesses that will be able to expand their market reach based on the data that is used. Additionally, the lack of end-to-end encryption allows for potentially dangerous information to be monitored and hopefully addressed.

However, when it comes to the protection of private information, most individuals and businesses will continue to be uncomfortable with having their information shared with parties that they do not have direct contact with. With so many innovations and ideas arising, the Big Data economy in Nigeria is a rising topic of discussion. Beyond WhatsApp, data analytics could do so much for Nigeria, such as reducing poverty and managing public health issues. Despite this, there must be a happy medium between using data to benefit and protect the public and protecting privacy and safety.

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