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Privacy at stake? Facebook can read your WhatsApp messages, says report

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Every time governments or analysts ask about the Facebook-owned WhatsApp’s  security protocols, the company quickly answers that their end-to-end encryption prevents Facebook from reading any private messages. 

WhatsApp isn’t as private as it claims: ProPublica reports

But according to a new report, Facebook’s encrypted messaging service WhatsApp isn’t as private as it claims. WhatsApp may read our chat and can access everything we share on the platform. 

Reports of ProPublica said WhatsApp shares metadata, or unencrypted records that can reveal a lot about a user’s online activity and private data with law enforcement agencies, such as the US Department of Justice.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that all content on WhatsApp is encrypted when the US began its initial probe against Facebook in 2018.

Is the privacy policy a lie?

According to the reports of ProPublica, Facebook is hiring paying more than 1,000 contract workers around the world to read through and moderate WhatsApp messages that are supposedly encrypted.

Essentially, if you report someone’s message, Facebook has grounds to read the message, but this goes against its claims of being end-to-end encrypted. If that were true, no message would be accessible by the company. 

According to ProPublica, 1,000 moderators are responsible for reviewing content flagged by Facebook’s machine learning framework. 

This monitoring group looks at spam, hate speech, child abuse, terrorism plotting and illegal businesses etc. Moderators have the power and ability to ban the content, put a particular user on watch, or to simply do nothing. 

ProPublica’s study found that many times content can be misidentified by the AI programme.

What WhatsApp spokeswoman said?

When a new user opens the app, it emphasizes “your messages and calls are secured so only you and the person you’re communicating with can read or listen to them, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp”. But the ProPublica report made it clear that these assurances are not true. 

A WhatsApp spokeswoman told The Post: “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.”

The privacy controversy

 Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion after that Zuckerberg has repeatedly assured the users that he would keep all the data private and safe. 

In 2016, WhatsApp announced that it would begin sharing user data with Facebook, which included sharing information such as users’ phone numbers, profile photos, status messages and addresses, so that Facebook could show better friend suggestions with these data and can serve up other things.

And In 2019, Facebook was fined $5 billion  by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over security and privacy concerns. 

WhatsApp receives backlash for it’s recent privacy policy terms

Earlier this year, WhatsApp announced another change in it’s privacy policy that users one-month deadline to accept the policy or they will get cut off from the app. The policy would allow users to directly message businesses on its platform. 

This policy sparked massive backlash, and more than ten million users shifted to other  rival apps like Signal and Telegram.

Regarding this WhatsApp said on its blog “We’ve seen some of our competitors try to get away with claiming they can’t see people’s messages — if an app doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption by default that means they can read your messages,” Other apps say they’re better because they know even less information than WhatsApp “We believe people are looking for apps to be both reliable and safe, even if that requires WhatsApp having some limited data.”

Also Read: In the world of Technology and rapid Innovation, Do the big tech giants control our behavior?

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