WhatsApp users in Ireland to benefit from more transparent information about changes in their terms of service

March 6, 2023

Social media platform WhatsApp has agreed to become more transparent when updating its terms of service to consumers. This commitment follows a cross-European action jointly led by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), the Swedish Consumer Agency (Om Konsumentverket) and the European Commission. WhatsApp will now ensure they explain the impact of changes to users, highlight the option to reject updates as prominently as accept them and ensure notifications provided to users are clear, prominent and not aggressive.

Kevin O’Brien, Member of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, says:

“The CCPC welcomes the commitments made by WhatsApp following our joint action. It’s crucial that consumers have clear information presented in a consumer-friendly manner so that they can understand and make informed decisions about changes to the terms and conditions of a service they are receiving.

As social media platforms constantly evolve, they must act within the law. Platforms such as WhatsApp are required to be fair and transparent in how they communicate with their users. This work, led by the CCPC and our Swedish counterparts will ensure fairer treatment of WhatsApp users in Ireland and across the European Union.”

The CCPC and Om Konsumentverket are members of the CPC Network, which is comprised of the national authorities responsible for enforcing European Union (EU) consumer protection laws in EU and EEA countries. Under the CPC framework, national authorities can work together to effectively tackle widespread infringements of EU consumer law and review commercial practices of traders.

The agreement following correspondence led by Ireland and Sweden on behalf of the CPC Network to WhatsApp in January, June and December 2022 outlining concerns about how the company was communicating with consumers about changes to terms and conditions. This follows an ‘alert’ raised in July 2021 by the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) which had alleged unfair practices in the context of WhatsApp’s updates to their terms of service.

WhatsApp has now committed to:

  • Clearly explaining in advance any changes it intends to make to the users’ contracts and how they could affect users’ rights;
  • Including the possibility to reject updated terms of service as prominently as the possibility to accept them;
  • Ensuring that the notifications informing about any updates can be dismissed or the review of the updates can be delayed, as well as respect users’ choices and refrain from sending aggressive notifications

WhatsApp is now required to adhere to these commitments in all future updates presented to users and the CPC Network will actively monitor how WhatsApp implements any future updates to its policies. This is the second recent cross-European consumer protection action jointly led by the CCPC. In 2022, the CCPC jointly led a CPC dialogue with TikTok obtaining commitments to ensure children were not subjected to hidden marketing or aggressive advertising techniques.

Return to News

Haven’t found what you’re looking for?