‘WhatsApp Cannot Be Trusted’ Says Elon Musk; Meta Responds

Whatsapp mic

Foad Dabiri, a Twitter engineer, recently accused WhatsApp of secretly using the microphone on his Google Pixel 7 Pro smartphone. His alarming discovery came to light on May 6th when he noticed that the messaging app had been accessing his device’s microphone in the background, even while he was asleep.

“What’s going on? WhatsApp has been using the microphone in the background, while I was asleep and since I woke up at 6AM,” said Dabiri, sharing a screenshot showing the times when WhatsApp accessed the mic on his Pixel 7 Pro.

Elon Musk (Twitter’s Chief Twit) responded to Dabiri’s tweet with “That’s weird,” on May 7. He later escalated his comments today, proclaiming “WhatsApp cannot be trusted.”

Musk also recalled that the founders of WhatsApp had left Meta, previously known as Facebook, in a state of “disgust,” sparking the #deletefacebook campaign and contributing significantly to the development of the privacy-focused messaging app Signal.

Meta, parent company of WhatsApp, quickly responded to the controversy through WhatsApp’s official Twitter account. They blamed the issue on a bug in the Android operating system, which could be causing misinformation on the Privacy Dashboard.

“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 misattributes information in their Privacy Dashboard and have asked Google to investigate and remediate,” the company stated.

WhatsApp further added that users have full control over their microphone settings and the app only accesses the microphone when a user is making a call, recording a voice note, or video. They reiterated that all these communications are protected by end-to-end encryption, ensuring WhatsApp cannot listen in on them.

For iPhone users, they can control the microphone on apps by going to Settings > Privacy > Microphone. On the iPhone 14 Pro Max, there is an orange dot within the Dynamic Island to let you know the mic is being accessed by an app. For other iPhones on iOS 14 or later, an orange dot shows up in the upper status bar to let you know a mic is being used.

As of now, Google has yet to comment on the allegations or the suggestion that it was an Android bug. The issue now has people talking about privacy again and Meta, with the latter’s fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal far from over it seems.