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January was a heck of a month for WhatsApp. The Facebook-owned messaging service came under public scrutiny for not letting users opt out of its intrusive policy changes. In an attempt to soften the blow, it even took out front-page newspaper ads to clarify what data it didn't have access to. A crowd of not-so-convinced users still flocked to alternative services like Signal and Telegram. WhatsApp isn't done trying, though, and it's working on a new terms-of-service prompt that hammers down the same message it's been broadcasting for a while now.
This development was spotted by the folks over at WABetaInfo in the latest beta for Android, version 188.8.131.52. Though the alert isn't live yet, they were able to dig into the app to offer a glimpse of it.
The new prompt makes it simpler — with the help of graphics — to understand what the terms of service are about. It clarifies that the policy doesn't affect the privacy of a user's personal conversations and that WhatsApp won't be able to snoop in on or texts or calls. The change only concerns chats with businesses that are "clearly labeled" and optional. For those wanting to read more, there are embedded links that will likely point to support documents.
If you've already accepted the terms once, you likely won't see this new prompt. But if you haven't jumped ship and accepted the terms before, expect this notice to pop up really soon.
WhatsApp confirms in a blog post that it will provide users with "more information" within the app in the coming weeks. It also takes this opportunity to throw some shade at competitors.
"During this time, we understand some people may check out other apps to see what they have to offer. We’ve seen some of our competitors try to get away with claiming they can’t see people’s messages - if an app doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption by default that means they can read your messages. Other apps say they’re better because they know even less information than WhatsApp. We believe people are looking for apps to be both reliable and safe, even if that requires WhatsApp having some limited data."