Amnesty International released a report this week ranking 11 tech companies on the privacy their messaging platforms offer. Surprisingly, the organization’s report gave Facebook the highest possible score.
The report took into account whether the messaging platforms offer encryption, whether the companies properly explain privacy issues to users and whether the companies disclose government requests for data.
“If you think instant messaging services are private, you are in for a big surprise,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, the head of Amnesty International’s Technology and Human Rights Team. “The reality is that our communications are under constant threat from cybercriminals and spying by state authorities. Young people, the most prolific sharers of personal details and photos over apps like Snapchat, are especially at risk.”
Even though the report gave Facebook Messenger (and Facebook-owned WhatsApp) its best score, it still offered criticism for both apps. Amnesty International noted that Messenger needs to a better job informing users about its privacy risks, while WhatsApp needs to specifically improve its explanation of the dangers that come with backing up information to the cloud. And even with the endorsement of such a prominent organization as Amnesty, some advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have still been harshly critical of Facebook’s messaging privacy.