Don't like WhatsApp's new terms of service? You might not have to accept them

WhatsApp logo shown on a smartphone
(Image credit: Alex Ruhl /

Any changes to an app or service's terms and conditions tend to cause concern, and this was certainly the case when it was announced that WhatsApp was intending to introduce updated terms of service. In the weeks that followed the revelation, all manner of rumors and speculation spread like wildfire.

Users expressed worries that they would not long be able to use WhatsApp if they were unwilling to accept the new terms, or that they would have to make do with a limited service. Now we know a little more, and it seems that the upcoming changes to WhatsApp's terms will be optional – but just what does this mean?

The latest information shows that fears about accounts being closed down for failing to accept changes to terms were unfounded. In fact, while WhatsApp is going ahead with planned policy updates, they will be optional as they only apply in particular circumstances – specifically, chatting to a business.

Screenshots shared by WABetaInfo show the message that users will see if they want to communicate with a business through the service. It reads:

Chat With This Business WhatsApp Recently updated its terms and privacy policy. This business uses a secure service from the Facebook company to manage chats. To chat with this business, review and accept the WhatsApp update.

This is a major difference from what many had feared or expected of the changes to terms. If you don't accept the updated policy, then you won't be able to start chatting with businesses you might be dealing with over WhatsApp.

Better than expected

The proposed changes proved so controversial because they would have affected so many people in their original format – with plenty of discussions over the policy updates, their implementation, and their implications even before they're rolled out. It was the fact that the new terms grant permission for WhatsApp to share data with Facebook that caused such upset, but now this will apply to a much smaller subset of users.

WhatsApp will be hoping that by limiting the new terms to only those people who want to get in touch with businesses, there will be greater acceptance. And based on the reaction so far, it's likely the company will be pleased with how this modification has been received.

Via WABetaInfo

Analysis: listening to feedback

There is a lot to be said for companies that listen to feedback from customers, and this seems to be what has happened here. In a heartening display of attentiveness from a gigantic company, WhatsApp – or its parent company, Facebook – has heeded people's concerns rather than just steamrollering over them.

It is entirely possible that this was the intention all along, but whatever the truth is, the fact of the matter is that this has work out to be a great public relations win for WhatsApp. Rather than being a heartless corporation, bloody-mindedly doing whatever it wants, here people power has been shown to have strength.

There will , of course, be those who are still unhappy that the revised terms have to be accepted in order to use WhatsApp to get in contact with businesses. But, ultimately, what matters is that the core functionality of the service and its apps remains unchanged.

Sofia Elizabella Wyciślik-Wilson
Freelance writer

Sofia is a tech journalist who's been writing about software, hardware and the web for nearly 25 years – but still looks as youthful as ever! After years writing for magazines, her life moved online and remains fueled by technology, music and nature.

Having written for websites and magazines since 2000, producing a wide range of reviews, guides, tutorials, brochures, newsletters and more, she continues to write for diverse audiences, from computing newbies to advanced users and business clients. Always willing to try something new, she loves sharing new discoveries with others.

Sofia lives and breathes Windows, Android, iOS, macOS and just about anything with a power button, but her particular areas of interest include security, tweaking and privacy. Her other loves include walking, music, her two Malamutes and, of course, her wife and daughter.

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