WhatsApp says no one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8

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Facebook’s WhatsApp is delaying the roll out of new business features following user backlash over the company’s data sharing practices.

The delay is a setback for WhatsApp’s plan to generate revenue by facilitating commercial exchanges on the messaging app, which Facebook acquired for $19 billion in 2014 but has been slow to monetize.

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WhatsApp said on Friday users will no longer have to review and accept its updated terms by Feb. 8, nor will they have their accounts suspended or deleted by that date.

Privacy advocates have jumped on the WhatsApp changes, pointing to what they say is Facebook’s poor track record of supporting consumer interests when handling their data, with many suggesting users migrate to other platforms.

A WhatsApp advertisement is seen on the front pages of newspapers at a stall in Mumbai. (Reuters)
A WhatsApp advertisement is seen on the front pages of newspapers at a stall in Mumbai. (Reuters)

WhatsApp said the planned update does not affect personal conversations, which will continue to have end-to-end encryption, or expand its ability to share data with Facebook.

“The update includes new options people will have to message a business on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data,” the company said.

WhatsApp said it had set a new target date of May 15 for the launch of the business tools and will approach users gradually to review the policy changes.

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