WhatsApp receives backlash after user reveal encrypted app has been accessing their microphone

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Meta owned app, WhatsApp, said there is a bug affecting Android phones and they don’t secretly record users, following backlash over messenger service ‘accessing microphone at night’

WhatsApp has been facing backlash amid growing reports from users that the encrypted chat app is “listening” in on them. Early with his criticism after headlines broke was Elon Musk, who recently announced his social media platform, Twitter, was introducing end-to-end encryption on its messaging service, saying the Meta owned chat app was “untrustworthy”.

The Twitter owner’s comment came after a user showed a photo of how WhatsApp had been accessing his phone’s microphone at night from between 4.30am and 7am while he had been asleep. 

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On Twitter, user Foad Dabiri, who works for Twitter, wrote: WhatsApp has been using the microphone in the background, while I was asleep and since I woke up at 6AM (and that's just a part of the timeline!) What's going on?”

Quick to defend itself, WhatsApp replied writing: “Over the last 24 hours we’ve been in touch with a Twitter engineer who posted an issue with his Pixel phone and WhatsApp. 

“We believe this is a bug on Android that mis-attributes information in their Privacy Dashboard and have asked Google to investigate and remediate.”

“Users have full control over their mic settings,” they continued. “Once granted permission, WhatsApp only accesses the mic when a user is making a call or recording a voice note or video - and even then, these communications are protected by end-to-end encryption so WhatsApp cannot hear them”

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The issue seems to have been going on for a while, with a national newspaper reporting on similar findings on different social media sites going back around five years.

Privacy Dashboard is a feature on Android phones that lets users see what apps are using the user's camera and microphone. The feature displays a green light at the top right of the screen whenever an app is using any one the two.

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