Fact Check: Group Privacy Update From 2019 Shared As Recent Change Under WhatsApp’s New Privacy Policy

In the backdrop of the recent row over WhatsApp’s privacy policy update, a message is being circulated online claiming that under the new privacy policy, WhatsApp has changed the privacy settings of groups to ‘Everybody’ and now anybody can add a user to any group. It further claims that the change has been done overnight without a warning.

The text in the message read, “WhatsApp privacy policy change WhatsApp changed privacy settings last night without warning. This means all groups you are in are now open to everyone and everyone. So please change your settings. Here’s some background and how to change your settings. WhatsApp settings were updated last night without warning. Its group settings include “everyone” by default so people you don’t know can add you to a group without you ever knowing. These may include scammers, loan sharks etc…….. You can change the default settings as follows: 1. Go to WhatsApp: 2. Go into Settings 3. Go to Account 4. Go to Privacy 5. Go to Groups 6. Change from (Everyone) to (My Contacts) I checked mine and they had all changed to being all open to everyone. Please share with your other groups.”

Here’s the link to the above post. Find more posts here, here, and here.


NewsMobile fact-checked the post and found it to be misleading.

Claim 1: WhatsApp has not changed the privacy setting of ‘Groups’

Firstly, we checked our ‘Groups’ setting in the ‘Privacy’ section and found out that there was no change in it. The privacy setting was not changed to ‘Everyone’.

The settings have not changed automatically but have been the same that were set up by users. It is important to note if the privacy of the groups shows ‘Everyone’ for some users, it means it has been the same since 2019 when WhatsApp first introduced the Privacy Settings For Groups and the user never changed the default option.

WhatsApp introduced the setting back in 2019, announcing in its blog that it is introducing a new privacy setting and invite system to help users decide who can add them to groups.

The above information proves that the update was done in 2019, not recently and did not happen “overnight”.

Claim 2: Changing group privacy setting is not a part of the new WhatsApp privacy policy

Several messages are circulating in the wake of the recent privacy policies introduced by the instant messaging platform, which triggered a huge flow of misinformation regarding the messaging tool on social media.

Therefore, WhatsApp took to Twitter and clarified that their latest policy change does not affect the privacy of groups. “WhatsApp groups remain private”, the tweet stated.

WhatsApp confirmed to Forbes that the update is old and is being recirculated to create confusion around the new privacy policy.

Earlier, NewsMobile had debunked similar claims regarding WhatsApp’s new privacy policy.

Fact Check: No, WhatsApp’s New Privacy Policy Does NOT Allow It Access To Users’ Photos; Message Is A Hoax

Fact Check: No, You Do Not Have To Pay to Use WhatsApp; It’s A Hoax

Hence, from the above information, it is clear that the message in circulation is false.

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