San Francisco — Facebook is scrambling to deal with a sudden competitive threat to its messaging platform WhatsApp after a change to its terms of service sparked privacy concerns and prompted users to turn to rivals such as Signal and Telegram in droves.

The encrypted messaging app, which has more than 2-billion users globally, and several of its senior executives spent Tuesday trying to clarify forthcoming privacy policy changes covering the data that can be shared between WhatsApp and its parent now that it is deepening its push into e-commerce...

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