WhatsApp uses Stories to try and assuage users' privacy fears

Anything to keep you from leaving for a rival chat app.

WhatsApp really, really wants to keep you from jumping to a rival chat service over its controversial new privacy policy, and it’s using some of its built-in features to get the message across. The Verge has learned that WhatsApp is now using Status messages (aka Stories) to underscore its “commitment to your privacy” in the US and UK. A similar campaign has been running in India for a while (see above), but it’s now reaching a more global audience.

A spokesperson said the company would use Statuses to convey updates directly “going forward,” reiterating the company’s belief there was “misinformation and confusion” surrounding its privacy policy change.

Many took updated language in the policy to imply WhatsApp would share messages and other content with Facebook. The service said it couldn’t read messages and was just clarifying existing practices, but the damage was done — million of upset users flocked to chat apps like Signal and Telegram.

This could help WhatsApp get in front of future uproars by talking directly to users instead of issuing statements and pointing users to FAQs. At the same time, the very need to communicate through Statuses reflects Facebook’s poor reputation for privacy. People simply assume the worst regardless of the actual risks, and conventional reassurances aren’t always enough.