The deadline to re-affirm our fealty to the leading chat platform WhatsApp came and passed on the 15th of May, or so we all thought. It turns out those who were determined to see what would happen if they didn’t accept WhatsApp’s new terms haven’t lost anything yet.
Instead what we have is another new deadline. Users now have until the 19th of June to accept the new terms or they will start losing certain functionality. This would be the second time that Facebook has moved the deadline following the initial February deadline that was scrapped after there was an uproar over the ultimatum.
So why the change of heart? Well, it seems WhatsApp had no choice but to make the extension as it is now embroiled in fights with authorities in various jurisdictions who are not happy about the new changes and what they entail. Those in the European Union for example had always been exempt from the 15 May deadline as the new terms were afoul of the GDPR.
WhatsApp has reportedly finished coding a GDPR version of these new changes that will allow them to comply with rules such as the right to be forgotten and allow users to request their data to be deleted from its servers. European users thus have until 19 June to accept the new terms.
Given the general sentiment against Facebook and by extension WhatsApp these days it is very likely that we will see yet another extension as certain countries in the EU including Germany are still taking them to task over the new terms. Turkey is also still assessing the new terms and therefore users have until 19 June. Again there is a real chance WhatsApp will have to move the deadline for users in these countries.
Only South Africa cares
As we celebrate Africa Day I must take this opportunity to castigate Zimbabwean and other African leaders for their lack of interest when it comes to regulating tech-giants who stopped not being evil a long time ago. It seems when there is no money to be made via things such as VAT or bizarre social media taxes our esteemed leaders are nowhere to be found.
Only South Africa was voiced concern over these new terms and actually bothered to ask Facebook to meet with the Communications and Digital Technologies Committee of South Africa. The leaders of South Africa wanted Facebook to tailor it’s services the same way it does during elections in developed countries in order to counter fake news and other malevolent acts.
Facebook ended up snubbing this meeting. Something the arrogant owners of this company would find hard to do if the issue was handled at say SADC or AU level.