A new report by ProPublica claims that WhatsApp does not support end-to-end encryption on the platform and the company has hired thousands of contractors to view users’ text, photo, and video messages. However, Facebook says that report is based on a misunderstanding and only reported messages are read by the company.
Are only reported messages on WhatsApp forwarded to Facebook’s moderators?
ProPublica says that WhatsApp has breached users’ privacy by lying about end-to-end encryption on the platform. The report states:
[An] assurance automatically appears on-screen before users send messages: “No one outside of this chat, not even WhatsApp, can read or listen to them.”
Those assurances are not true. WhatsApp has more than 1,000 contract workers filling floors of office buildings in Austin, Texas, Dublin and Singapore, where they examine millions of pieces of users’ content. Seated at computers in pods organized by work assignments, these hourly workers use special Facebook software to sift through streams of private messages, images and videos that have been reported by WhatsApp users as improper and then screened by the company’s artificial intelligence systems. These contractors pass judgment on whatever flashes on their screen — claims of everything from fraud or spam to child porn and potential terrorist plotting — typically in less than a minute […]
Facebook’s response to the article clarifies that only reported messages on the app are reviewed by moderators. The company’s spokesperson said in a statement that;
“We build WhatsApp in a manner that limits the data we collect while providing us tools to prevent spam, investigate threats, and ban those engaged in abuse, including based on user reports we receive. This work takes extraordinary effort from security experts and a valued trust and safety team that works tirelessly to help provide the world with private communication. Based on the feedback we’ve received from users, we’re confident people understand when they make reports to WhatsApp we receive the content they send us.”
Having said that, there is more to the story. It is evident now that not only the reported message(s) are forwarded to Facebook but four preceding messages are also automatically attached with the reported messages to give moderators a context of the conversation.