The messaging this time appears more vague than the pop-up WhatsApp had shown users two months ago, which had specifically mentioned Integrations with Facebook. Back then, WhatsApp had said that the new policy would change “How businesses can use Facebook hosted services to store and manage their WhatsApp chats,” and “How we partner with Facebook to offer integrations across the Facebook Company Products.” Also, there were none of the disclaimers around how user chats would continue to remain encrypted. Last time, WhatsApp had provided users a similar deadline of 8th February.
This pop-up had alarmed users, and made many look for WhatsApp alternatives. Several Indian entrepreneurs had publicly batted for Signal, and Signal and Telegram had seen a massive surge in their downloads. Chastened, WhatsApp was forced to stop prompting users to accept the new terms, extended the deadline, and even run full-page ads in newspapers telling users that their chats were safe.
The fact that WhatsApp still wants to push this update through, so soon after it faced near-rebellion from Indian users over the same plans, shows how critical Facebook thinks WhatsApp’s data is to finally begin monetizing the service. By integrating WhatsApp chats with Facebook’s advertisers, Facebook can turn WhatsApp from being a medium of peer-to-peer communication into one that’s also used to interact with businesses, and that can enable WhatsApp to possibly get a commission or a fixed sum from these transactions. It also helps that WhatsApp now also supports UPI, which can also enable payments to also flow through its app. But it remains to be seen if Indian users will readily accept the new terms — they weren’t quite as keen on having their data shared with Facebook last time, and with Facebook looking to essentially push the same update again, WhatsApp will be closely monitoring if Indian users take the bait this time around.