Be careful if you report a message on WhatsApp: you are giving the company an intrusion into your private life

If you report a shocking image or spam in a WhatsApp chat, a team of company moderators will analyze your complaint. WhatsApp has reported over 400,000 possible cases of child abuse in this way in 2020. The report button is also often misused for jokes and jokes in chat groups. But according to the American research platform Propublica, you are accepting more things than you imagine during this procedure.

WhatsApp moderators review not only the offending post, but the previous four posts as well. This context is used to determine whether the reported message should lead to monitoring or blocking of the account. WhatsApp’s terms of service state that if you report a message, you agree to send “some messages.” According to Propublica, relayed by our colleagues from Sudinfo, the privacy of its two billion users is at risk.

In order to assess the value of the reports, an automated system takes user alerts and links them to the data that WhatsApp itself collects on accounts, usage patterns, and possible past violations. According to Propublica, this information includes profile photos, phone numbers, device details, and any related Facebook and Instagram accounts.

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