WhatsApp involved in a new controversy with its message encryption system

Since 2016, WhatsApp has used an encryption system for the messages exchanged by its users. With end-to-end encryption, the platform claims that only the sender and receiver of the message can read its content.

However, a new report published by ProPublica refutes this claim. The source analyzed, in detail, the content moderation system in WhatsApp and concluded under what circumstances the platform is able to read the correspondence of its users.

New: WhatsApp assures users that no one can see their messages, but the company has an extensive monitoring operation and shares personal information with prosecutors on a regular basis. https://t.co/byYEEASFYo

– ProPublica (@propublica) September 7, 2021

WhatsApp can read some messages exchanged by users

Ever since WhatsApp implemented end-to-end encryption, it boasts that the content is completely anonymous. The message broadcast to the public indicates that no message sent is read by your computer, only by the sender and the receiver.

The recently published report contradicts this thesis. It exposes a message moderation system on WhatsApp that aims to prevent the spread of spam, terrorist content, child abuse content, and other illegal practices.

In fact, WhatsApp has 1000 employees focused on analyzing the content flagged by its artificial intelligence and user complaints. When this content is signaled, the platform receives part of the conversations without any type of encryption.


WhatsApp reiterates that this content only reaches its employees if someone reports it. In addition, it claims that it does not have access to all the content of a chat room, only a few messages before the alarming content for some context.

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After analyzing these messages, moderators can archive the flag, ban that user’s account, or place them on a watch list. The decision will be made considering the content read by WhatsApp collaborators, contrary to what has always been publicized regarding its end-to-end encryption system.

WhatsApp says it has good reasons for this review system

Faced with these accusations, WhatsApp gave its side of the coin to ProPublica. In statements to this source, the Facebook group platform comes out in defense of their practices.

The platform rates this content review system as a positive. He affirms that only in this way will he be able to prevent the millions of users who use WhatsApp every day from spreading abusive or harmful content.

In addition, it indicates that all the practices exposed in this report are contained in the privacy policy made available by WhatsApp. As expected, it is not very open to the user, who has to work a bit to find these elements.

Ultimately, this investigation once again damages the image of WhatsApp among its users. After the scandal of changing the conditions of service, last January, here is another case that will generate mistrust among its users.

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