Users had until the 15th of May this year to either accept the new policy or opt-out, a move that would cause user experience on the app to degrade significantly until it eventually ceases to function altogether.
Facebook had planned to introduce the new policy earlier this year, but delayed the move after a substantial backlash from users, which in turn, resulted in downloads of Telegram and Signal going through the roof.
The IR is demanding that Facebook offer South African users the same terms and conditions as those offered to citizens in the European Union (EU) nations. This comes after German regulators ordered Facebook to stop collecting WhatsApp users’ data last week and is reportedly seeking an EU-wide ban on the app.
“The regulator has received no agreement from WhatsApp. Under the circumstances, the regulator is briefing attorneys to prepare an opinion on the way forward in terms of litigation.”
What now for WhatsApp and Facebook?
The IR’s move is just the latest in a series of local headaches for Facebook.
Last month the Democratic Alliance demanded that the social media platform come to parliament to answer questions about the spread of misinformation on its platform.
It recently agreed to do so, but in a statement released by the DA, the meeting could also signal “the beginning of discussions regarding the social media platform paying South African media houses for carrying their content as was recently successfully implemented in Australia.”