WhatsApp, owned by Meta, has agreed to improve how it communicates with users and presents future updates to its terms of service (ToS), according to the European Commission. This comes after a major user backlash in early 2021, when WhatsApp pushed out an aggressive and confusing update to its ToS that required users to accept the update without making it clear what was changing. The episode caused widespread confusion and drove some users to ditch the platform altogether, with rivals like Signal and Telegram reporting a surge in adoption. In July 2021, the European consumer protection association umbrella group, the BEUC, along with eight of its member organizations, lodged a complaint about WhatsApp’s confusing ToS with the EU’s executive, the Commission, and with the European network of consumer authorities. This led to warnings from the bloc to WhatsApp that it needed to fix a variety of issues. At the same time, the Commission asked WhatsApp to confirm whether or not it derives any revenue from commercial policies related to user data. While message content on WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted (E2EE), user metadata is not protected, so it has remained unclear how Meta might use this information, given an earlier decision the tech giant took in August 2016, abandoning a privacy pledge by the WhatsApp founders by saying it would link their accounts to others on public social services it operates, such as Facebook, potentially giving the adtech giant the ability to enhance its profiling of WhatsApp users by cross-linking their digital activity with other social services it owns. Today, the Commission said WhatsApp has confirmed that users’ personal data is not shared with third-parties or other Meta companies, including Facebook, for advertising purposes. Although it is unclear whether the EU is simply taking Meta at its word on this, and whether or not it intends to audit the claim, the question of whether WhatsApp uses user data for marketing was an issue Ireland’s Data Protection Commission declined to look into, after it announced its final decision this January on a separate, multi-year data protection-related investigation of the platform, despite the European Data Protection Board instructing it to do so. So this aspect of WhatsApp’s operation remains under-scrutinized by regulators.
WhatsApp’s Big Promise: Say Goodbye to Spam and Scams in the EU!
Of all the messaging apps today, WhatsApp remains to be one of the most reliable tools to connect people across the globe. Its popularity stems from its simplicity, convenience, and end-to-end encryption features that ensure privacy and security for its users.
However, despite its innovation, WhatsApp has been a breeding ground for spam messages and scams, which have plagued its users for years. The frequency and persistence of these unwanted messages have become a real challenge for WhatsApp’s creators to address. Fortunately, that challenge has been met, and WhatsApp has made a big promise to the European Union.
The promise: Say goodbye to spam and scams.
WhatsApp has announced that it has taken substantial action to curb the spread of spam and scams for its EU users. The platform has updated its Terms of Service to include new sections that outline WhatsApp’s commitment to fight against spam and scams. The new sections are designed to enhance and strengthen WhatsApp’s anti-spam and anti-scams global solutions.
When WhatsApp users in the EU receive an unsolicited message, they now have the option to report those messages by using the platform’s reporting feature. The feature allows users to flag the content of the message as spam, verify the identity of the sender, and block the message and sender from their chat lists.
WhatsApp has also made it easier for its users to block spam and scam messages before they even land in their inboxes. These measures include stopping the delivery of bulk messages to users who have not opted to receive them, as well as limiting the number of messages that a user can forward at one time.
WhatsApp is also working closely with its parent company, Facebook, to ensure that all leading and trusted brands have their accounts verified. The verification process will undoubtedly help users avoid impersonators who have used leading brands’ names to scam unsuspecting users.
Moreover, WhatsApp has begun to implement artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that can detect malicious messages even before they reach users’ inboxes. The AI algorithms will track down suspicious links and images, as well as invalid messages that deceive users into thinking they are real.
WhatsApp’s new anti-spam and anti-scams features in the EU demonstrate the platform’s commitment to improving user experience by safeguarding users from unsolicited messages, spam, and scams. WhatsApp’s work in these areas is an essential step towards a safer and more secure digital world for its global community.
In conclusion, WhatsApp has taken significant strides in addressing the issue of spam and scams on its platform in the EU. The new features and updates demonstrate WhatsApp’s continued commitment to user privacy, security, and experience that will pave the way for a better and safer digital future. By taking these measures, users can enjoy all the benefits of using WhatsApp without the fear of unwanted messages and potential scams. Say goodbye to spam and scams with WhatsApp!