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FACT CHECK: Will WhatsApp block your account if you don’t accept its new privacy policy?

Avatar Written by Hamza Zakir · 1 min read>

Remember how, on the cusp of being acquired by Facebook back in 2014, WhatsApp assured its loyal base of users that its goal was to “know as little as possible”? It’s okay if you don’t, because apparently, that level of dedication to user privacy is no longer on the table anyway.

Yes, if you’ve been keeping tabs on the latest development to come out of the world’s most popular messaging app, you know that WhatsApp has started informing its users that it is updating its terms and privacy policy, which feature the controversial announcement that the app will now not only store your messages and media, but will share your data with Facebook and affiliated companies.

Quite a far cry from “know as little as possible”, eh?

According to the notification being issued to users, WhatsApp’s new terms and privacy policy will come into effect from February 8, 2021.

The new terms and privacy policy include the following updates:

  • Additional information on how WhatsApp handles your data
  • Changes in communication with businesses
  • How WhatsApp shares data with Facebook and its products

Naturally, it is that final concerning update that has been causing all the hoopla. The messaging app has added a new section in its updated terms which mentions how it works with other Facebook companies and how it shares data with them to “help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings”.

In simpler terms, WhatsApp will effectively start storing and selling your data to third-parties. Your entire persona on WhatsApp – the sum total of your messages, media, emojis, interactions – is about to become a product very soon.

Now, time to address the elephant in the room: if you refuse to accept these new terms, will WhatsApp block your account? Is it really a case of “accept it or quit”?

The answer, sadly enough, is yes.

Let’s start with the notification that WhatsApp has issued to all of its users.

After this date, you’ll need to accept these updates to continue using WhatsApp,” the notification reads.

Basically, WhatsApp itself is telling you that your continued usage of the app is conditional upon you accepting the new terms.

And then there’s the fact that the company has an entire section in its Updated Privacy Policy post dedicated to deleting your WhatsApp account.

You can delete your WhatsApp account at any time (including if you want to revoke your consent to our use of your information pursuant to applicable law) using our in-app delete my account feature,” the section begins.

WhatsApp adds that if you only delete the app from your device, without using the aforementioned in-app delete feature, “your information will be stored with us for a longer period”. It is basically telling you that the only way to get out of sharing your information is to delete your account. There is no such thing as rejecting the terms and continuing to use the app.

So yes, in a nutshell, it really is a case of “accept it or quit”.

Unsurprisingly, #WhatsappNewPolicy is a trending topic on Twitter right now. You can see some of the best reactions to the app’s controversial new decision here.

Written by Hamza Zakir
Platonist. Humanist. Unusually edgy sometimes. Profile