WhatsApp goes all in on encryption with new ad campaign

Menlo Park, California - WhatsApp is advertising full encryption on its chat service after its new usage rules sparked a backlash.

Users who didn't accept the updates to privacy agreements won't lose access to functions of WhatsApp (stock image).
Users who didn't accept the updates to privacy agreements won't lose access to functions of WhatsApp (stock image).  © 123RF/dennizn

The Facebook-owned firm has launched the quirky new campaign today in Germany and Britain - two of its most important markets. It's not clear when or if the campaign will make its way stateside.

The short advertising videos highlight that content sent via WhatsApp is only visible in plain text to the users involved thanks to end-to-end encryption.

WhatsApp has faced criticism and an exodus of users in recent months after it announced its new usage rules.

The mid-May update was widely interpreted as meaning more data would be shared with WhatsApp's parent company Facebook.

WhatsApp rejected this as a misunderstanding and has repeatedly emphasized that there would be no weakening of its end-to-end encryption, which also prevents the service itself from accessing messages and content.

WhatsApp Chief Executive Will Cathcart admitted mistakes in the announcement of the new rules, saying the firm initially failed to communicate clearly what they were doing and why.

He said WhatsApp had already planned an ad campaign for end-to-end encryption, but that there is even more reason to talk about the feature after the response of the past few months.

Cathcart said an overwhelming majority of users asked to consent to the new rules have already accepted them, but did not give exact numbers.

Originally, users who did not agree were supposed to lose access to basic functions over time, but they will no longer face any consequences.

New functions for communicating with businesses will only be available after the update. These new functions were the main reason for the change in terms of use, according to WhatsApp.

Cover photo: Collage: 123RF/prykhodov & olegdudko

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