Previously, the company said it would restrict some users from accessing chat logs and even turn off the ability for users to receive calls and messages through the app. But in a statement to the news outlet The Next Web last week, WhatsApp said:
“Given recent discussions with various authorities and privacy experts, we want to make clear that we currently have no plans to limit the functionality of how WhatsApp works for those who have not yet accepted the update. Instead, we will continue to remind users from time to time about the update as well as when people choose to use relevant optional features, like communicating with a business that is receiving support from Facebook.”
The company previously said:
“At that time, you’ll encounter limited functionality on WhatsApp until you accept the updates. This will not happen to all users at the same time.
You won’t be able to access your chat list, but you can still answer incoming phone and video calls. If you have notifications enabled, you can tap on them to read or respond to a message or call back a missed phone or video call.
After a few weeks of limited functionality, you won’t be able to receive incoming calls or notifications and WhatsApp will stop sending messages and calls to your phone.”
That language is no longer present on WhatsApp’s FAQ, but when it was first revealed, it presented a stark image to users who had perhaps chosen WhatsApp entirely because of its earlier, pro-privacy slant.
Instead, those users who chose to protect one small aspect of their online privacy were being punished. As we wrote previously:
“A private messaging app that cannot receive messages is useless, and it is ludicrous that the reason it is useless is because the company has chosen to make it that way.
This is an anti-privacy choice. It is also an anti-user choice, as users are being punished for their refusal to share data.”
Thankfully, this scenario has been avoided, but it is still frustrating that it took this level of public outrage for WhatsApp to correct course. Protecting users and protecting their choices should not be this hard.