As a pop-up alert on WhatsApp is informing users, the app is updating its privacy rules and requires new users to accept an updated terms and conditions – but what does this actually mean?

The move means that users will need to agree to new terms with Facebook if they want to be able to continue using the service after 8 February.

But concerns have been raised about what data WhatsApp users will have to share with the company under these terms, with many alternative apps pitching for the company’s userbase with allegations that WhatsApp’s users will be sharing more data with Facebook as a result.

The new agreement states: “As part of the Facebook family of companies, WhatsApp receives information from, and shares information with, this family of companies.

“We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customise, support, and market our services and their offerings,” it continued.

WhatsApp explained to Sky News that the update only describes business communications, and doesn’t change any of WhatsApp current data sharing practices with Facebook.

“The update does not change WhatsApp’s data sharing practices with Facebook and does not impact how people communicate privately with friends or family wherever they are in the world,” the spokesperson explained.

“WhatsApp remains deeply committed to protecting people’s privacy. We are communicating directly with users through WhatsApp about these changes so they have time to review the new policy over the course of the next month.”

User accounts won’t be deleted if they fail to agree to the new terms, a spokesperson explained to Sky News, but they won’t be able to continue to use the service until they agree.

WhatsApp users within the European region, which includes the UK, are receiving a separate private policy to those elsewhere in the world.

According to WhatsApp the move is part of the company introducing new payment capabilities to the app so that people can make purchases from businesses using it.

Speaking at the company’s developer conference in 2019, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said he believed “it should be as easy to send money to someone as it is to send a photo”.

The move comes as Facebook announced that Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp were all being brought under one umbrella earlier this year.

It said Facebook Pay would “be a seamless and secure way to make payments on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp”.

Tech watchers say Facebook has long sought to replicate the success of Chinese instant messaging app WeChat’s mobile payments system.

WeChat Pay is a popular method for cashless transactions in China and is often used in physical stores as well as online – something which has made it one of the most dominant technology companies in the country.

Source: Sky News