WhatsApp started off 2021 badly, fluffing an announcement in January that it would be making changes to its privacy policy. Users saw pop-ups telling them they’d have to accept the changes, but doing an exceptionally poor job of explaining what they were.

The Facebook-owned company attempted to reassure users that private messages would still be encrypted and unreadable by itself, Facebook and anyone else, but millions jumped ship to rival messaging apps such as Telegram anyway.

WhatsApp then set a date of 15 May to introduce the changes, and said it would start limiting features for those who didn’t accept the new policy. But it walked back on that after various protests (including a letter from the Indian government) and said “We will not limit the functionality of how WhatsApp works in the coming weeks".

Now, it has launched an international campaign designed, once again, to try and restore confidence that its app is safe to use and only you and the people you’re chatting with know what you’re saying. To everyone else, including WhatsApp, those messages are unreadable.

It’s calling it ‘Message Privately’ and two ads will be shown online and on TV in the UK and Germany to start with.

In one, below, a couple mysteriously get together at a double dinner date after messaging each other on WhatsApp and another where someone uses it to escape a job they hate and land a job they love.

Two others will also be shown at a later date, one featuring a young couple are seen talking at home when the camera pulls back to reveal a door. The guy realises he can close the door and prevent viewers from seeing and hearing any more, with scrambled, unreadable WhatsApp messages on the other side of the door.

WhatsApp says the ads “highlight the benefits of end-to-end encryption and show how WhatsApp protects the privacy of people’s messages with industry-leading privacy features”.

Those benefits include features such as disappearing messages, which let you choose how long messages remain in others’ chats. 

The company said that it plans to expand the options for disappearing messages later this summer.

End-to-end encryption protects the privacy of the personal moments we share every day. We believe people have a right to communicate without companies or third parties listening in and we want everyone to know the lengths WhatsApp goes to protect their private messages. The Message Privately campaign expresses our commitment to privacy for our users and what we’re doing to build new ways to protect their messages.”, said WhatsApp head, Will Cathcart.

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