Facebook has long touted the privacy protections that it offers to WhatsApp users, including full end-to-end encryption for all messaging. However, according to a recent report from ProPublica, Facebook is reportedly paying teams of contractors around the world to read and moderate these supposedly private messages.
The investigation found that when content is reported at WhatsApp, it is funneled into a review process where moderators can easily access and pass judgement on flagged posts. This seemingly flies in the face of Facebook’s promise that “no one outside of this chat, not even WhatsApp, can read or listen to [your messages].”
“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,” the report states. “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.”
For its part, Facebook “strongly disagreed” with the notion that accepting user reports is the same thing as violating end-to-end encryption. However, it’s a tough look for a company that is already widely distrusted for its privacy slip-ups.
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