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Do you know that your WhatsApp communications are not really private and secure?
Ever since Facebook purchased Whatsapp in 2014, the privacy of the world’s largest messaging app has been degraded, so unfortunately the truth is Whatsapp is not as secure and private as its millions of users imagine the app to be.
The majority of WhatsApp’s 2 billion global users believe WhatsApp’s assurances of being a privacy preserving, reliable messenger app.
WhatsApp’s assurance is even displayed on the screen before a user begins messaging, it reads - “No one outside of this chat, not even WhatsApp, can read or listen to them.”
This assurance is false and it’s very important for us to understand this as users of WhatsApp.
WhatsApp’s claim to be a privacy preserving messenger centers around the application applying “end-to-end encryption” feature, where chats and messages exchanged through Whatsapp are encrypted.
Here, the chats, messages sent in Whatsapp are going to be in an unreadable format and will open up only to the person who that chat or message is sent to, which is the intended destination point of that message/chat.
Facebook and instagram are not privacy preserving apps because the “end-to-end encryption” feature is not integrated there but, it’s not true that the messages exchanged in Whatsapp can’t be read by WhatsApp employees. They can be read and are read and moderated by WhatsApp.
WhatsApp uses the services of thousands of contract employees, situated in offices of Austin, Texas, Dublin, Singapore whose job it is to screen through scores of private WatsApp messages for inappropriate content using a special facebook software. This is done to messages that are flagged as inappropriate by a Watsapp user and then backed as inappropriate by WhatsApps’ Artificial Intelligence algorithm.
These contract workers, will have to judge weather the Whatsapp content is inappropriate examining weather the image, text, video that flashes on their screen is spam, related to child porn, is a terrorist communication etc, generally within a span of 1 minute,
WhatsApp is not transparent about its content moderation activities and does not disclose any details about those policing activities. This is not the case with its social media siblings, facebook and instagram as these apps put out quarterly transparency reports with details on the number of accounts they have moderated for objectionable content.
Whatsapp keeps claiming that the company gives utmost importance to privacy of its users and the app is designed keeping in mind the users' right of privacy while they take needed measures to prevent abuse.
However, there are lots of instances where WhatsApp has disclosed user conversations under pressure from powerful entities like Governments etc, and this lack of reliable privacy in WhatsApp which should worry users, especially users who are Citizens of countries that have authoritarian Governments.
I urge everyone to read the above scroll article, based on which I have written this piece because it’s important to understand how secure and private your communications are on whatsApp.
Generally, many of us don’t take data privacy very seriously, however, we must understand that we have the right to privacy and it's important for a lot of reasons, including safety from intimidation by big powers and other entities etc.