Today, we will talk about the recent controversial question, which is ‘can WhatsApp read your messages‘. Recently a claim has been made through a report by ProPublica, which created confusion among the WhatsApp users. The ProPublica report has allegedly claimed that the end-to-end encryption claim and the privacy claims by WhatsApp are not true.
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Now the fact is, WhatsApp is not a completely private service. Is this an indication that it can read your messages? Well, on this confusion, Facebook has responded to it.
In communication with 9to5Mac, Facebook has given their statement. Facebook has told that there might have been some misunderstanding, which has lead ProPublica to publish the report including this claim. The messages on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted and no one can have access to those, except for the sender and the receiver. But if anyone reports a certain message, the content moderation panel of WhatsApp will be able to see the message to solve the issues.
WhatsApp provides an end-to-end encrypted messaging policy, which means only the sender and the receiver knows what the content of the message is. End-to-end encryption enables the messages to get scrambled while leaving the sender’s device; and then to get re-assembled when it has reached the receiver’s device.
This means not even the developers or moderators of the platform have access to the messages. WhatsApp and/or Facebook don’t have any other ways to read your chats. This encryption policy of WhatsApp is the biggest reason behind the worldwide popularity of this app.
Though the ProPublica report creates an impression that your chats are not safe, as Facebook or WhatsApp are able to read those. This piece of information according to the developers of WhatsApp, is totally wrong and misleading.
It has been said again and again by the developers of WhatsApp that they are able to read a message only if it is reported by the users. To report a contact, you need to click on the Contact Details from the chat and then click on Report Contact. Then you get to choose between report and block the contact, or just report the contact. If you go through the WhatsApp policy, you will see what they said about this.
WhatsApp receives the most recent messages sent to you by the reported user or group, as well as information on your recent interactions with the reported user.
This means, when you report a contact, WhatsApp gets a copy of your most recent chats with the contact. Then required action is taken by the content moderation panel to resolve the matter. In fact, the ProPublica report itself says this feature has been a great help to society. Approximately 4,00,000 possible cases of child exploitation have been reported to WhatsApp through the chat reports.
Takeaway From ProPublica Report
The ProPublica report has analyzed the features of WhatsApp. Some of those are somewhat flawed and not to the point. Whereas some are pointing at the dark side of the content moderation business. If those claims are true, then WhatsApp definitely needs to work on improving its moderation panel.
Mostly in their 20s and 30s, many (WhatsApp content moderators are) with past experience as store clerks; grocery checkers and baristas, the moderators are hired and employed by Accenture; a huge corporate contractor that works for Facebook and other Fortune 500 behemoths.
The job listings advertise “Content Review” positions and make no mention of Facebook or WhatsApp. Employment documents list the workers’ initial title as “content moderation associate.” Pay starts around $16.50 an hour.\
Collectively, the workers scrutinize millions of pieces of WhatsApp content each week. Each reviewer handles upwards of 600 tickets a day, which gives them less than a minute per ticket.
WhatsApp content moderators mostly get to deal with users who are messing with their peers. But According to the report, there are instances where “a flawed translation toolset off an alarm when it detected kids for sale and slaughter; which, upon closer scrutiny, turned out to involve young goats intended to be cooked and eaten in halal meals”.
This means the reporting feature is somewhat flawed, which is because of the nature of the app.
Yes, WhatsApp messages are private.
Can strangers contact you on WhatsApp?
Yes, if they have your WhatsApp number they can easily contact you.
Will Cathcart is the WhatsApp CEO.