WhatsApp buys bulk newspaper ads to calm Indian users as downloads slip

WhatsApp has rushed to calm Indian consumers amidst the hullabaloo that came along with its recent privacy update. The company rolled out advertisements in at least 10 English and Hindi newspapers, Reuters reported, announcing that its respect for consumers’ privacy “is coded into [its] DNA” and that the policy update does not impact the privacy of users’ messages with their friends and family “in any way”. It also specified that the privacy policy changes only concern users’ interactions with businesses.

When approached for a statement, WhatsApp's spokesperson directed MARKETING-INTERACTIVE to its published statements on privacy. According to Sensor Tower, WhatsApp download slipped 30% in India between 5 to 12 January. On the other hand, competitor Telegram saw a 40% jump in downloads. Rival Signal also saw downloads increase to 7,100,000 during the period, up from 15,000 a few days prior, Sensor Tower said. This trend was not confined to India. In fact, more than 2.2 million users have downloaded Telegram while 100,000 new users have installed Signal, Sensor Tower said. On top of that, WhatsApp and Facebook also face an investigation by Turkish anti-trust officials.

Over the past few days, WhatsApp has had to put out fires caused by its controversial privacy policy update. Earlier this week, it clarified in a post that the update includes changes related to messaging a business entity and listed a series of things it cannot do post-update. They include seeing one’s private messages or hearing calls, sharing users’ contacts with Facebook, and viewing users’ shared location. It added that users can download their data and WhatsApp groups remain private.

(Read also: Analysis: Privacy outrage around WhatsApp valid, but update inevitable?)

WhatsApp’s communications director Sravanthi Dev also told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE previously that with the update, businesses will soon have the option to store and manage their WhatsApp chats with customers using Facebook’s secure hosting infrastructure. This not only reduces onboarding time but also enable consumers to get a faster response, she said. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to WhatsApp for comment on the latest advertising blitz in India.

Meanwhile, rival Telegram has seized this opportunity to tease WhatsApp for the reason furore it has caused online. Telegram posted a GIF of a popular meme, the Coffin Dance, on Twitter, along with an image of WhatsApp's privacy update placed on the coffin. It also engaged in cheeky comebacks with Twitter users who replied to its original post.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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