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Facebook denies report claiming WhatsApp 'undermines' its users' privacy

A report from ProPublica alleged that WhatsApp's claims of protecting its users' privacy with end-to-end encryption are false.

What you need to know

  • ProPublica has alleged that WhatsApp messages aren't actually end-to-end encrypted.
  • Facebook apparently "regularly shares" personal information of WhatsApp users with prosecutors.
  • Facebook says the report is based on a misunderstanding.

Facebook has denied a report from ProPublica that claimed it has been lying to users about WhatsApp messages being end-to-end encrypted (via 9to5Mac). The company says the article is based on a misunderstanding, and only those messages that are reported by WhatsApp users are forwarded to the Facebook moderation team.

In a statement sent to Android Central, a WhatsApp spokesperson said:

Every day WhatsApp protects over 100 billion messages with end-to-end encryption to help people communicate safely. We've built our service in a manner that limits the data we collect while providing us the ability to prevent spam, investigate threats, and ban those engaged in the worst kind of abuse. We value our trust and safety team who work tirelessly to provide over two billion users with the ability to communicate privately.

Per the ProPublica report, over 1,000 contract workers in Austin, Texas, Dublin, and Singapore examine "millions of pieces of users' content." The workers apparently use special Facebook software to go through private messages, photos, and videos reported by users as improper. The messages are then said to be screened by Facebook's artificial intelligence systems.

WhatsApp reviewers gain access to private content when users hit the "report" button on the app, identifying a message as allegedly violating the platform's terms of service. This forwards five messages — the allegedly offending one along with the four previous ones in the exchange, including any images or videos — to WhatsApp in unscrambled form, according to former WhatsApp engineers and moderators. Automated systems then feed these tickets into "reactive" queues for contract workers to assess.

The report further alleges that WhatsApp regularly shares unencrypted records with the U.S. Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies. Signal, which is one of the best Android messaging apps and a popular WhatsApp alternative, is claimed to "intentionally gather much less metadata to avoid incursions on its users' privacy."

Contract workers interviewed by ProPublica told the publication that they are hired and employed by Accenture and are made to sign sweeping non-disclosure agreements. Each reviewer is made to handle more than 600 tickets a day, giving them less than a minute per ticket.



Source: androidcentral

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