What the new WhatsApp status update means

In the future, WhatsApp will use States to communicate with its users: here is the first State on the platform's official profile.

In addition to the States of our friends on WhatsApp we will soon have to take a look also at the States of WhatsApp on WhatsApp. It's not a pun, it's reality: WhatsApp has chosen to use the States to communicate the latest news of the service and the app, perhaps even those related to privacy.

It has already begun to do so, announcing precisely through a State the intention to use the States for official communications. It's a move that follows the huge controversy stirred up by previous communications about the new privacy policy, which were instead made via a large banner that popped up when the app opened and didn't leave until the user pressed the button claiming to have read the notification. But it's also a move that exposes WhatsApp to further criticism and, probably, problems with privacy authorities like the Italian one.

What's written in WhatsApp's Status

The Status in which WhatsApp announces the upcoming changes, also in terms of privacy, is composed of four messages. The first simply states that, from now on, this system will be used to communicate with users.

The second reiterates that WhatsApp protects users' privacy, the third reiterates that all chats are encrypted and not even WhatsApp can read them. The fourth message again states that WhatsApp will continue to update its Status whenever there is something new to communicate to the platform's users.

What's wrong with WhatsApp communications via Status

This choice by WhatsApp is definitely less invasive than the previous banner. Perhaps even too little invasive and this could create further problems for the platform if important news such as those on privacy were communicated through a State update.

The Italian Privacy Guarantor, for example, has openly criticized the previous communication on the new privacy policy considering it unclear: according to the Guarantor, in short, it was not possible to understand on the fly what changes compared to before.

Using the States instead of a banner to give important communications is perhaps even worse. First of all, because most usersĀ  never look at the States, then because a State is difficult to read if the text is a lot and, finally, because the States of WhatsApp disappear after 24 hours.

If WhatsApp really decides to use the States to give important communications about new features of the service that impact on the use of personal data or that change the privacy policy, then, a further intervention of the Privacy Guarantor would be obvious.