Will WhatsApp Implement Terms Allowing Governments to Monitor and Record Calls?

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A screenshot of a WhatsApp message claims that WhatsApp will supposedly be changing its terms to allow governments to monitor communication on the platform.

Introduction

There have been widespread concerns about telecommunication companies and social media platforms’ methods of handling user data and the privacy that comes with the use of these technologies. Facebook, who own WhatsApp and Instagram have been hardest hit by critics over their user data collection which they use to provide targeted ads and selling the data to third parties. The company has been accused of failing to protect users’ data with trails of scandals such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal when personal information is reported to have been harvested in order to influence the 2016 US elections, Kenya’s 2017 elections, and the 2015 campaigns of former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan.

WhatsApp caused an uproar in early January after rolling out an update to its privacy policy. A move which saw many users migrate to Signal and Telegram. They later delayed the new policy to at least May 15.

Verification

The WhatsApp message seems to take advantage of the online fury over WhatsApp’s plan to change their privacy policy. The language used in the message is very vague and does not specify which authorities would have the so-called access to users’ communication. WhatsApp explains on their website’s FAQ section that they cannot see your messages or hear your calls as they have 256-bit end-to-end encryption.

WhatsApp also conveys all updates on new features, terms, and privacy policy on their official Twitter and Facebook accounts as well as their blog. The updates usually contain a specific date as to when the changes will take effect, which is missing in the message above.

A search on the help center page shows that no such updates exist.

Verdict

The claim that WhatsApp has changed its privacy policy to allow governments to see your chats and listen to your calls is therefore FALSE.

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Moffin Njoroge

Moffin is passionate about data and strives to find patterns, stories and leads by analyzing and interpreting datasets.