WhatsApp pushed-back the imposition of a change in its terms, blaming misinformation and user confusion about what it intends to do in the controversial update.

In a corporate blog, the company said an update to its privacy terms which had been scheduled to come into force on 8 February would be pushed back to 15 May.

This, it added, would allow it to “do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp” and give people longer to consider the changes.

Originally, those not accepting the new conditions by the February deadline would have been unable to continue messaging on the app.

When WhatsApp first announced the change earlier this month, privacy organisations and vocal opponents of the company slammed a perceived attempt to increase the data shared with parent company Facebook.

Pressure group Privacy International said the change and its planned implementation showed “how much Facebook values their users’ data over their users. Accept our data grab or get out is pretty far from what consent should look like under laws like GDPR”.

Several users also looked to alternative platforms, with app analytics company Sensor Tower reporting an upsurge in downloads of rival platforms Signal and Telegram.

The change applied to a large part of the world, but not the UK and European Union due to specific privacy legislation in these regions.

Just business
WhatsApp maintains conversations on its platform will remain secure after the update and, rather than being about sharing sensitive personal information with other Facebook apps, the new terms are about making it easier to deal with businesses on the platform.

In its blog, the company added: “We’ve heard from so many people how much confusion there is around our recent update. There’s been a lot of misinformation causing concern and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts.

“The update includes new options people will have to message a business on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data. While not everyone shops with a business on WhatsApp today, we think that more people will choose to do so in the future and it’s important people are aware of these services. This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook.”