WhatsApp is delaying the rollout of new business features following a user backlash over the company’s data sharing practices.
The delay is a setback for its plan to generate revenue by facilitating commercial exchanges on the messaging app, which Facebook acquired for $19bn in 2014 but has been slow to monetise.
WhatsApp has said users will no longer have to review and accept its updated terms by 8 February – and no accounts will be suspended or deleted by that date.
Privacy advocates have jumped on the WhatsApp changes, pointing to what they say is Facebook’s poor track record of supporting consumer interests when handling their data.
Many have suggested users would migrate to other platforms, and rival app Signal surged up the App Store charts on iPhone and the Google Play Store on Android after WhatsApp’s plan first came to light.
WhatsApp had insisted that the planned update does not affect personal conversations, which it said will continue to have end-to-end encryption, or expand its ability to share data with Facebook.
“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,” the company said.
WhatsApp said it had set a new target date of 15 May for the launch of the business tools and will approach users gradually to review the policy changes.