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Initially sent in an email to merchant partners, first spotted by TechCrunch, the WhatsApp website advises users have an "effective date" of May 15th to review the policy changes. WhatsApp "will not delete" user accounts that don't accept the policy updates, but they "won't have full functionality of WhatsApp" until they accept.
The page describes this as "For a short time, you'll be able to receive calls and notifications, but won't be able to read or send messages from the app." The duration of the "short time" is not defined.
After May 15, users will be able to accept the changes, but WhatsApp warns its policy "related to inactive users will apply." That policy advises accounts deemed inactive are "generally deleted after 120 days of inactivity."
Users are also informed they can export their chat history and download a report of their account before May 15. Account deletion advice is also offered, but with the further warning that it cannot be reversed.
The reaction from users led to an exodus for millions to other privacy services, including Telegram and Signal. In response, WhatsApp started to use its Status feature to remind users it cannot read their encrypted conversations.