A hot potato: WhatsApp has revealed the consequences for users who refuse to sign its controversial new privacy policy by the May 15 deadline: loss of account functionality, followed by eventual deletion.

At the start of January, WhatsApp announced a new privacy policy for non-EU users that allows their account data to be shared with the messaging app's owner, Facebook. The service has shared some information, such as phone numbers, with its parent since 2016, but there were fears that the new policy would allow Facebook to access private WhatsApp conversations.

While private conversations will remain encrypted, messages sent to and from businesses may be shared, and Facebook can use the data for targeted advertising.

The outcry against the new policy led to WhatsApp delaying its introduction from February 8. Now, TechCrunch reports that users are being asked to agree to the new terms by May 15 to ensure the app keeps working as normal.

Those who refuse to comply with the new policy will find that their accounts won't be deleted straight away, but functionality will be severely limited. They'll no longer be able to send or read messages from the app, and while receiving calls and notifications will be possible, those features will also disappear after a few weeks.

WhatsApp notes that users can still accept the updates after May 15 but warns that it generally deletes accounts following 120 days of inactivity.

WhatsApp is essentially clarifying that any user who refuses to accept the new privacy policy will eventually have their account terminated. If you fall into that category, take solace in the fact that there are plenty of other, less invasive options out there, including Signal, Telegram, and Discord.