WhatsApp backtracks on threat to ban users that don't accept new privacy policy

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Alex Ruhl)

The Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp has decided to backtrack on its threat to ban users that don't accept its new privacy policy when it goes into effect on May 15.

While the privacy policy was originally supposed to go into effect in February, the company decided to delay the update till May after facing backlash from its users.

For those unfamiliar, WhatsApp's new privacy policy will allow the app to share user data with its parent company Facebook as well as Instagram. While the update won't affect the privacy of messages sent to friends and family and is more about messaging businesses on the platform, when it was first announced though, many users believed that the contents of their messages could be at risk.

With the May 15 deadline fast approaching, WhatsApp is now giving users more time to review and accept the update. Although users will no longer be banned from the platform outright, they will face consequences for failing to accept the update.

WhatsApp Limited Functionality

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

Limited functionality

In a new post in its Help Center, WhatsApp has provided more details on what will happen to users that fail to accept its revised privacy policy by May 15.

Users that don't accept the update after a period of several weeks will receive persistent reminders from the company to do so. After receiving such a reminder, they will then have limited functionality on WhatsApp until they accept the updates.

For instance, users will no longer be able to access their chat list but they will still be able to answer incoming phone and video calls. If WhatsApp notifications are enabled on a user's smartphone, they'll be able to tap on them to read or respond to a message or call back a missed phone or video call. However, after a few weeks of limited functionality, WhatsApp users will no longer be able to receive incoming calls or notifications and the service will eventually stop sending messages and calls to their smartphones.

While the company won't delete your account if you fail to accept the new privacy policy, your account may still be deleted if it it's inactive for 120 days.

The choice of whether or not to accept WhatsApp's new privacy policy is now in the hands of its users and they'll have to read through the document and make their own decision. Keep in mind though that there are plenty of WhatsApp alternatives that can be used to securely keep I touch with your friends and family.

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Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.