Facebook, the parent company to WhatsApp, is reporting near-record low revenue growth. Thus, presumably in an effort to monetize WhatsApp more heavily, WhatsApp recently announced changes to its privacy policy: as of February 8, 2021, all WhatsApp users (except those that live in Europe) must agree to share their data with Facebook. If users do not agree, WhatsApp will delete their account.

Since the announcement of the changes to WhatsApp privacy policy, there has been much public criticism. The public has also been speaking through their actions—with massive amounts of users changing messaging platforms over the last several days.

For example, following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s media office and the country’s defense ministry telling journalists that they are quitting WhatsApp and moving to an encrypted messaging app called BiP, businesswire.com reports that 4.6 million new users have purportedly signed up for BiP. BiP is a Turkish platform, with all data stored in data centers of Turkcell in Turkey with highly secured encryption. Atac Tansug, Executive Vice President – Digital Services and Solutions of Turkcell, has promised users that they will not be obligated to share their data with third parties.

Elon Musk has also issued a call for users to switch from WhatsApp. Specifically, Musk has urged people via Twitter to switch to Signal. Signal is an encrypted app that lets users send messages and make calls via the Internet. Signal’s marketing message focuses on privacy. According to gadgets.ndtv.com, Signal is open source and its code is peer-reviewed, which means its privacy and security is regularly checked by independent experts.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is urging WhatsApp users to change to Microsoft’s messaging platform, Skype. The Skype Twitter account tweeted: “Skype respects your privacy. We are committed to keeping your personal data private and do not sell to 3rd parties.” The tweet also included a URL linking to Microsoft’s privacy policy statement.

The changes to WhatsApp’s privacy policy are a good example of:

(1) how companies try to monetize data available to them;

(2) how changes to a company’s privacy policy can drive users away;

(3) how Europe’s data privacy laws resulted in different treatment for those living in Europe; and

(4) how companies can compete (and will likely increasingly compete) based on their privacy policies.