Under fire from critics after the announcement of a change to its terms of use, the WhatsApp messaging platform decided on Friday to postpone the entry into force of its new terms of use by three months, seeking to reassure users about the protection of their personal data.

Faced with the controversy after the announcement of a change to its terms of use, the mobile messaging platform WhatsApp has decided to postpone the entry into force of its new terms of use by three months, seeking to reassure users on the protection of their personal data.

"We are now delaying the date by which users will have to review and agree to the terms," ​​the company said in a blog post on Friday.

The changes, which were supposed to come into effect on February 8, will not be effective until May 15.

Last week, WhatsApp asked its some two billion users to agree to new conditions before February 8, or else they would no longer be able to access their account.

This decision has been interpreted by many detractors as an attempt by the platform to share more data with the parent company, Facebook, which bought WhatsApp in 2014. 

Allow advertisers to sell directly on WhatsApp

On Friday, the company insisted that the update would not "strengthen our ability to share data with Facebook", but was primarily intended to help businesses communicate better with their customers through the platform.

The application aims in particular to allow advertisers to sell their products directly on WhatsApp, as is already the case in India, its largest market with some 400 million users.

“We know there has been confusion and misinformation about this update, and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts,” the company said.

WhatsApp conversations will continue to be end-to-end protected and neither Facebook nor WhatsApp will be able to see these private messages, she assures.

The announcement of the update last week had caused panic and anger among many users, who were alarmed at the abandonment of WhatsApp's founding values.

The application has built its reputation in particular on data protection.

An outcry that benefits the competition

The platform had tried to calm the fire with reassuring announcements and advertising campaigns, but competing services, like Signal and Telegram, took advantage of the confusion and saw their downloads soar.

The whimsical Tesla boss Elon Musk even urged his Twitter followers to use Signal, considered one of the most secure apps out there.

On Friday afternoon, Signal admitted on Twitter that it was experiencing "technical difficulties" with the influx of new users, as happened earlier in the week.

"We added new servers and extra capacity nonstop every day this week, but what happened today goes way beyond our most optimistic projections," the platform said.

Turkish and Italian reviews

For its part, the Competition Authority in Turkey announced on Monday the opening of an investigation against WhatsApp and Facebook, demanding the suspension of the update.

The country's authorities have in recent days urged citizens to favor the use of a local messaging application, BiP, developed by the mobile operator Turkcell.

In Italy, the Data Protection Authority ruled that WhatsApp had not clearly communicated the nature of the changes to its customers.

"The conditions of use and the new measures on privacy do not allow users to understand what changes are introduced and what will be the concrete processing of data after February 8," said the Italian institution on Thursday.

Facebook is in the sights of many regulators who believe that the takeover of companies and their integration into the group's ecosystem is harming competition.

In December, several US authorities asked the courts to force the social media giant to part ways with Instagram and WhatsApp.

More generally, the big names in tech are regularly accused of wanting to use more and more personal information in order to boost their advertising revenue.

On Friday, the Uber chauffeur-driven car reservation platform announced changes to its terms of use, effective from January 18.

"Please note that we do not make any changes to the way we use your data," however was quick to clarify the company.