You may be wondering exactly what this means, how it impacts you and if you need to do anything. The answer is it means a few things, it will impact you and you need to take a few steps if you want to continue to use WhatsApp.
The deadline to accept the changes was 15th May, but you do have some time before you see changes to WhatsApp.
WhatsApp has put out a blog explaining the change, and confirmed that it won’t stop users from accessing it straight away, so that’s on 15th May. WhatsApp has said no one will lose the functionality of the platform because of this update, but you may see your services limited.
You’ll get a reminder to accept the new policy, but after a few weeks this will get more persistent if you don’t accept it.
Once you get this persistent reminder WhatsApp says you will start to get limited functionality on the service until you accept the update.
You won’t be able to access your chat list, but you can answer incoming calls and video calls. If you have your notifications enabled, you can click that to respond or call back if you miss a video or phone call.
After a few more weeks you will then not get calls or notifications and WhatsApp will stop sending and receiving messages and calls.
You can, however, export your chat history on both iPhone and Android and download a report of your account. You won’t have your account deleted if you accept the update when prompted.
If you do delete your account your message history will be erased, the user will be removed from all WhatsApp groups, and all backups will be deleted.
Why did WhatsApp change its terms of service?
WhatsApp also wants to launch a new range of features for businesses that use the service to shop and plan. The changes were announced back in October 2020, but are only just coming into effect now.
The idea is to make it easier for smaller businesses to have a storefront on WhatsApp. They will be able to upload their catalogue into WhatsApp so their customers can buy their stock without leaving the app.
For the larger businesses, WhatsApp has said there are technical tools allowing them to integrate the app into their own platforms. So you could send messages to customers when an order is sent out, for example.
Why does this mean WhatsApp is changing its terms of service?
The main change is how WhatsApp relates to Facebook. Facebook already has these shopping features, like the Marketplace. Rather than have these as two separate things, WhatsApp is linking those so businesses run them across both platforms.
Bigger businesses can also then contract the work of running the WhatsApp side of things to Facebook.
WhatsApp has clarified that if you have nothing to do with these business features then this crossover with Facebook is irrelevant to you. When the terms of service was discussed in January this wasn’t clear leading to people panicking and deleting the app.
How is WhatsApp linked to Facebook?
To complicate things a little, WhatsApp is integrating with Facebook. The terms of service only apply to business features, but Facebook has said the long-term plan is to integrate WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram as it owns all of them. Instagram and Messenger have already integrated, but it’s harder to do this with WhatsApp with its end-to-end encryption, and use of mobile numbers rather than usernames.