WhatsApp also notes that businesses pay for the right to use WhatsApp to reach customers, and that’s one of the ways WhatsApp is able to provide its app for free. The main features of WhatsApp remain as private as ever. Of course, it’s not as private as some users might think: WhatsApp started sharing some personal information like phone numbers and profile photos with Facebook in 2016 to improve friend recommendations and ads on the app.
WhatsApp’s tone in this redo of its policy change is somewhat apologetic. It didn’t explain what was changing well enough to users, and it’s owning up to that. But WhatsApp also managed to sneak in a dig at other companies that welcomed the exodus from WhatsApp prompted by the policy:
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. We strive to be thoughtful on the decisions we make and we’ll continue to develop new ways of meeting these responsibilities with less information, not more.
WhatsApp is obliquely referencing Telegram, an app that, along with Signal, seemed to benefit from the confusion over what was changing in WhatsApp. Telegram has dealt with its own criticism over not enabling end-to-end encryption by default — and clearly, WhatsApp doesn’t want you to forget that.