WhatsApp Stirs As Users In Big Indian Market Worry About Privacy By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A WhatsApp logo appears on a T-shirt worn by a representative of WhatsApp-Reliance Jio during a campaign by the two companies to educate users, outside Kolkata.

By Sankalp Phartiyal NEW DELHI (Reuters) – WhatsApp is fighting mistrust globally after it updated its privacy policy to allow it to share some user data with parent company Facebook (NASDAQ 🙂 and other group firms, and the backlash may thwart its ambitions in its largest market, India. Although WhatsApp has yet to see mass uninstalls of its app in India, privacy-conscious users are increasingly downloading rival apps like Signal and Telegram, the research firms say, pushing them higher on the download charts. and puts them ahead of their ever-present rival India for the first time. The backlash in India, where 400 million users exchange more messages on WhatsApp than anywhere else in the world, has forced the messaging app to unleash an advertising blitz that cost tens of millions of rupees this week in at least 10 English-language newspapers. and Hindi. “Respect for your privacy is encoded in our DNA,” WhatsApp said in a newspaper ad. It said the update to its privacy policy “does not affect the privacy of your messages with your friends and family in any way.” WhatsApp has also said that the privacy policy changes are only related to user interactions with businesses. When asked for comment, WhatsApp referred Reuters to its published privacy statements. The media campaign, similar to the one he ran two years ago when facing criticism in India for not doing enough to curb disinformation, underscores the severity of the crisis for the world’s most popular messaging platform. Fathers Facebook and WhatsApp have bet heavily on India and any user who complains could affect their plans. Last year, Facebook invested $ 5.7 billion in the digital unit of the Indian oil-to-tech group Reliance, the social media giant’s biggest business since its $ 22 billion purchase of WhatsApp in 2014. A large portion of the Investment in India relies on WhatsApp and Reliance project to enable some 30 million mom and dad store owners to transact digitally. While WhatsApp’s payment service, approved by India’s flagship payment processor at the end of last year after two years of waiting, is not included in the privacy policy update, any considerable changes from user to other Messengers could mean losing to well-established rivals. CONCERNS ABOUND Users around the world were alarmed when WhatsApp said on January 4 that it reserved the right to share some user data, including location and phone number, with Facebook and its units like Instagram and Messenger. Even as WhatsApp sought to allay fears and reassure users that neither it nor Facebook would have access to their messages, calls, or call logs, the privacy policy update unleashed a global storm with Signal downloads increasing as that people were looking for alternative messengers. Signal was the most downloaded free app in India on both Apple‘s iOS (NASDAQ 🙂 and Google‘s Android (NASDAQ :), surpassing WhatsApp, according to internet research firm Top10VPN. Signal downloads in India jumped to 7,100,000 between January 5 and 12, from about 15,000 days earlier, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower. Telegram downloads increased 40% while WhatsApp downloads fell 30% in the period. Manish Khatri, a Mumbai-based smartphone vendor, said many of his clients asked if WhatsApp could read their messages. Indian startups have also reacted quickly. “Here in India, WhatsApp / Facebook are abusing their monopoly and taking the privacy of millions of users for granted,” Vijay Shekhar Sharma, CEO of Alibaba-backed financial technology Paytm, said on Twitter. “We should move on to @signalapp NOW. It is up to us to become victims or reject such movements.” MobiKwik, another digital payments company, had started using WhatsApp for business communication, but decided to switch to Google and Signal, its boss said. “I am not available on WhatsApp and have advised senior executives to do the same,” MobiKwik chief executive Bipin Preet Singh told Reuters. WhatsApp’s payment system in India competes with companies like Paytm and MobiKwik, as well as Google Pay’s PhonePe and Walmart (NYSE :).