Facebook may still be reading WhatsApp messages despite denying it

New ProPublica investigation highlighted how contract workers were reading through private sensitive content

Tech Desk September 10, 2021

Recent emerging evidence proves that WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned messaging application, does in fact pay contractors around the world to read through messages on the application and moderate content within.

A new ProPublica investigation highlighted how more than a 1000 contract workers were reading through private sensitive content sent on the application. Facebook acknowledged that the employed contractors sift through content on WhatsApp that have been flagged by users or the application's algorithm. This allows users to report abuse and harassment, where contractors and moderators review the content sent.

However, Facebook claims that it is unable to listen in on personal voice calls and read messages on WhatsApp, because of their service encryption. The "end-to-end" encryption feature scrambles messages when they are sent, and only unscramble them when they are received by a user. A report of abuse, however, would prompt the application to send unencrypted messages to WhatsApp moderators.

A Facebook spokesperson said to Business Insider, that "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."

After the publication of the article on Insider, WhatsApp spokesman at Facebook sent a statement that said "WhatsApp provides a way for people to report spam or abuse, which includes sharing the most recent messages in a chat. This feature is important for preventing the worst abuse on the internet. We strongly disagree with the notion that accepting reports a user chooses to send us is incompatible with end-to-end encryption."


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