Outcry about the perceived impact of the update on Facebook’s access to user data scuppered the first bid to win sign-ups.
The company stressed that the update was not about changing data-sharing practices with Facebook – which owns WhatsApp – but was instead just a matter of enabling users to talk to businesses within the app.
Turning the messaging app into a platform for businesses – as a channel for customer services, as well as a payment and shopping platform – has been a focus for Facebook for many years.
But the policy update designed to introduce these features instead provoked privacy concerns, partially due to the deadline of 8 February by which users would have to agree or find themselves unable to use the app.
It was also partially spurred on by alternative apps pitching for WhatsApp’s user base, with allegations that the update would leave those users sharing more data with Facebook as a result.
Privacy advocates jumped on the changes to point to what they said was Facebook’s poor track record of supporting consumer interests when handling their data.
Many suggested users would migrate to other platforms, and rival app Signal surged up the app charts on both iOS and Android as concerns about WhatsApp’s plans circulated.
WhatsApp paused the launch after it “encountered a great deal of misinformation about this update” forcing it to “work hard to clear up any confusion”.
In a new blog post referencing the outcry, the company has explained that it will be attempting to get users to sign the new privacy agreement with a more gentle approach over the next few weeks, while providing more information.
“As a reminder, we’re building new ways to chat or shop with a business on WhatsApp that are entirely optional. Personal messages will always be end-to-end encrypted, so WhatsApp can’t read or listen to them,” the company stated.
“In the coming weeks, we’ll display a banner in WhatsApp providing more information that people can read at their own pace.
“We’ve also included more information to try and address concerns we’re hearing. Eventually, we’ll start reminding people to review and accept these updates to keep using WhatsApp.”
The company is now expected to give users until 15 May to agree to the new terms and conditions.