The delay was due to the “confusion” and “misinformation” surrounding the new policy, according to the company. It said the new policy update only includes new options for people to manage their business on WhatsApp and “does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook.”
The date of the new policy rollout will be pushed back until May 15, according to the blog post. WhatsApp also said no one’s account will be suspended or deleted on February 8, when the policy was originally scheduled to go into effect.
The announcement comes two weeks after WhatsApp announced the new change, drawing criticism from the messaging app’s users who were concerned about their data privacy. After the new policy was announced, many users began flocking to alternative messaging platforms, such as the encrypted chat app Signal. Tesla CEO Elon Musk even tweeted to “use signal.”
WhatsApp on Monday attempted to address the uproar over privacy concerns with a post on its website, explaining that the update was designed to aid businesses on its platform, as it reiterated in Friday’s post.
“We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way. Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data,” WhatsApp said.
Signal saw 7.5 million downloads last week, a 4,200% spike since the previous week. On Wednesday, Signal was at the top of both Google and Apple’s app stores. Large swaths of users migrated to Telegram as well — the platform gained 9 million new users last week, up 91% from the previous week, and is also at the top of Google and Apple’s app stores.