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    WhatsApp gets mad as users in the large Indian market worry about privacy

    WhatsApp is fighting mistrust globally after updating its privacy policy to allow it to share some user data with parents Facebook and other group companies, and the backlash risks undermining its ambitions in its largest market, India.

    Although WhatsApp has not yet seen mass uninstallations of its app in India, privacy-concerned users are increasingly downloading rival apps like Signal and Telegram, search companies say, pushing them higher in download rankings and putting those apps ahead. to their ubiquitous rival in India for the first time. The reaction in India – where 400 million users message each other on WhatsApp than anywhere in the world – has forced the messaging app to unleash a tens of millions of rupee advertising blitz this week in at least 10 English newspapers and Hindi.

    “Respect for your privacy is encoded in our DNA,” WhatsApp said in a newspaper ad. He stated that his privacy policy update “does not in any way affect the privacy of your messages with your friends and family”. WhatsApp also said that the privacy policy changes are just related to user interactions with companies.

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    When asked for comment, WhatsApp sent its published privacy statements to Reuters. The media campaign – similar to the one that took place two years ago when India came under criticism for not doing enough to curb disinformation – underscores the severity of the crisis for the world’s most popular messaging platform.

    Parent Facebook and WhatsApp have staked a lot on India and any user who grumbles could dent their plans. Last year, Facebook invested $ 5.7 billion in the digital unit of Indian oil group Reliance, the social media giant’s largest deal since the $ 22 billion acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014.

    Much of the investment in India hinges on a WhatsApp and Reliance project to enable some 30 million mom and pop store owners to make digital transactions. Although WhatsApp’s payment service, approved by India’s flagship payment processor late last year after two years of waiting, falls outside the privacy policy update, any sizable shift of users to other messengers could mean losing well-established rivals.

    CONCERNS Users around the world were alarmed when WhatsApp said on January 4 that it reserved the right to share certain user data, including location and phone number, with Facebook and its units like Instagram and Messenger.

    Although WhatsApp has tried to calm fears and assure users that neither it nor Facebook would have had access to their messages, calls or call logs, the privacy policy update triggered a storm globally with Signal downloads increasing as people searched alternative messengers. Signal was India’s most downloaded free app on both AppleiOS and Google’s Android outperforming WhatsApp, according to Internet research firm Top10VPN.

    Signal downloads in India increased to 7,100,000 between January 5 and January 12, from about 15,000 days earlier, according to analyst firm Sensor Tower. Telegram downloads increased by 40% while WhatsApp downloads decreased by 30% over the period. Manish Khatri, a Mumbai-based smartphone seller, said many of his customers were wondering if WhatsApp could read their messages.

    Indian startups also reacted quickly. “Here in India WhatsApp /Facebook they abuse their monopoly and take the privacy of millions of users for granted, ”said Vijay Shekhar Sharma, CEO of Alibaba-backed fintech Paytm. Twitter.

    “We have to move to @signalapp NOW. It is up to us to become victims or to refuse such moves.” MobiKwik, another digital payment company, had started using WhatsApp for business communication but decided to switch to Google and Signal, its boss said.

    “I am making myself unavailable on WhatsApp and have advised senior executives to do the same,” Bipin Preet Singh, CEO of MobiKwik, told Reuters. India’s WhatsApp payment system competes with Walmart’s Paytm and MobiKwik, Google Pay and PhonePe.

    (This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

    News Highlights:

    • WhatsApp is fighting mistrust globally after updating its privacy policy to allow it to share some user data with parents Facebook and other group companies, and the backlash risks undermining its ambitions in its largest market, India. Although WhatsApp has not yet seen mass uninstallations of its app in India, privacy-concerned users are increasingly downloading rival apps like Signal and Telegram, search companies say, pushing them higher in download rankings and putting those apps ahead. to their ubiquitous rival in India for the first time.
    • WhatsApp gets mad as users in the large Indian market worry about privacy
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