Facebook-owned WhatsApp, a messaging service used by billions all around the world, is not as private as Facebook states it is.
WhatsApp touts privacy at its core and Facebook has said that it can’t read messages sent between users, however Facebook is reportedly paying teams of individual contractors around the world to read through WhatsApp messages and moderate the content therein – reading and moderating their supposedly private messages.
As highlighted by a new ProPublica investigation highlights, Faccebook employs “more than 1 000 contract workers filing floors of office buildings in Austin, Texas, Dublin and Singapore where they examine millions of pieces of users’ content.”
These contractors, which Facebook acknowledges, reportedly spend their days sifting through content that WhatsApp users and the algorithms flag.
A Facebook representative said that it allows users to report abuse and those reports are then reviewed by the contractors. When a user reports abuse, WhatsApp moderators are sent “the most recent messages sent to you by the reported user or group,” according to WhatsApp’s FAQ.
According to the ProPublica report, WhatsApp is founded on so-called end-to-end encryption, which means that messages are scrambled before being sent and only unscrambled when they’re received by the intended user. But when a user reports abuse, an unencrypted version of the message is sent to WhatsApp’s moderation contractors.
“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,” a WhatsApp spokesperson at Facebook said in a statement.
Facebook has owned WhatsApp since 2014, when the social media giant purchased the then-nascent messaging app for about R270 billion.
Sources: Business Insider
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