Following WhatsApp’s new Terms of Service announcement last year, the messaging app plans to push forward with the rule change, regardless of the backlash received.
Facebook’s goal since purchasing WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion was to make it an “everything app” where not only would you use it to message friends, but also to shop, pay your bills, and more. In order for that dream to come true, they have changed the rules in their Terms of Service.
The change allows for a new set of features where small businesses can upload their goods directly to the app, letting any WhatsApp user message the company, browse the shop and complete a purchase, all without needing to leave the app.
“Facebook has ambitious plans for expanding its messaging services to achieve what Tencent has done in China with WeChat,” says Martin Garner of CCS Insight. “…where people interact with businesses and shops, plus pay for goods and services using the messaging app. WeChat also has its own mini-apps and games and has become an essential part of the fabric of day-to-day life there. Achieving this position would be a huge prize for Facebook.”
After an initial panic about potential misuse of information from consumers and resistance through the downloading of rival applications, Facebook delayed the rollout, but is moving forward now.
Facebook has announced that those who refuse to accept the new Terms of Service will lose access to WhatsApp. Initially, they will be unable to close the screen asking them to accept the new terms, although they will still be able to receive phone calls, and reply to messages through notifications. Eventually, even that will be disabled, leaving users with no choice but to accept the new rules, or delete their accounts entirely.
With competitors on the market like Signal and Telegram, it’s up in the air at this time whether the move will cause users to flee, or get in line.