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Despite backlash over privacy policy, are Indians actually ready to leave WhatsApp?

The outrage over WhatsApp's new privacy update has forced it to delay the implementation for three months. We ask experts if people will really migrate to other similar applications or will stay put

Messaging app WhatsApp is continuously facing backlash from users ever since they announced a new update to its privacy policy. The widespread outrage on social media has led to most people questioning the application’s privacy policy and some even migrating over other similar messaging platforms.

The new update was supposed to take effect from February 8 but WhatsApp has delayed its implementation for three months. 

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has also asked the platform to withdraw the proposed changes in the privacy policy, and to reconsider its approach to information privacy, freedom of choice and data security, suggests reports.

WhatsApp has also tried to address the situation by clarifying the concerns of people through various communications.

We ask experts if the current outrage will lead people to stop using the application. We also ask if the latest clarification from the platform and its decision to withhold the new update for a while will stop people from migrating to other platforms.

Heeru Dingra

According to Heeru Dingra, CEO, WATConsult, taking over the largest market will not happen overnight. “India is the biggest market for WhatsApp. The pandemic accelerated the use of WhatsApp even more. More and more of the rural population have jumped onto it and continue to do so. If you see, its percentage growth is not as high in the urban market than in the rural market. I’m not sure if the rural population is that worried about security compared to the urban population. In urban areas, you might see a shift. Or it may not be a shift. People will not delete WhatsApp but might download Signal and start using it. They might use it as a parallel app,” she said.

“I don’t think the percentage dip will be significant considering they are looking for an update in May sometime. The largest market cannot shift overnight; it takes a lot of time for some other app to be the largest market. While you have people adapting to new apps, you also have people who are still adapting to WhatsApp. We must also note that it is easy to use and it has a lot of benefits. For example, you have a lot of people running businesses and shopkeepers doing transactions with the app. However, there will be an advantage for Signal or any other app of the same nature meanwhile,” Dingra said.

Ahmed Aftab Naqvi

Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, CEO and Co-Founder, Gozoop, said, “If not the solution, addressing the confusion among users was a step that WhatsApp took after facing a backlash for the update. I believe it was too little, too late. Privacy is non-negotiable. Many users have shifted to other apps for good. Many others are dabbling in them while keeping WhatsApp active in a way to phase things out as they wait for their friends and families to adopt and adapt the new platforms.”

Rikki Aggarwal

Rikki Aggarwal, Co-Founder, Chief Business and Operating Officer, Blink Digital, said, “WhatsApp being a free platform will always want to monetise the data. As people say there aren’t any free lunches, so it is believed that eventually, WhatsApp will start using data to power their advertising solution. Three-month delay is just a tactic to negate negative conversations. Eventually, monetisation of data will be a way to go for WhatsApp.”

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