Your WhatsApp messages to be analysed by Facebook? See what this report reveals and how it may impact you

A report says that WhatsApp users' chats may be analysed by Facebook through a new method. Know how it will impact you.
By HT TECH
| Updated on Aug 04 2021, 02:36 PM IST
Facebook reportedly wants to find a way to analyze encrypted WhatsApp messages.
Facebook reportedly wants to find a way to analyze encrypted WhatsApp messages. (REUTERS)

Is your privacy on WhatsApp under threat? The popular messaging app WhatsApp is renowned for its privacy feature that ensures end-to-end encryption. This means that only those people you give permission to can read your messages and no one else. Essentially, this means that only those who are part of the conversation or all the people present in a group chat can read these messages. Not even WhatsApp itself can snoop and read these messages. This gives most people a certain peace of mind in that they can say whatever they want without having to worry about someone else reading it.

But now, Facebook, the parent company of WhatsApp, has hired a team of researchers to analyze encrypted WhatsApp messages in order to serve targeted ads to audiences, it is being reported. The problem lies with the encryption part for Facebook. Since WhatsApp chats are encrypted, they cannot be read by anyone else other than recipients. Facebook is looking at the possibility of data mining with a difference. In fact, the company has confirmed that a team has been brought on board to do just that, Android Authority cited The Information as saying.

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So, the task before Facebook is to decrypt the encrypted WhatsApp chats in a manner that does not violate the user's privacy. Yes, there is a name for this method and it is called 'homomorphic encryption', which allows mining of data in a meaningful manner that could potentially, enable it to send targetted ads to users.

However, The Information report reveals that Facebook has denied any such possibility. Facebook reportedly told The Information that it is “too early for us to consider homomorphic encryption for WhatsApp."

Being in the eye of a storm is not new to WhatsApp. The app was in the news recently for trying to force a new privacy policy on users. This resulted in a lot of backlash and Facebook was forced to delay the rollout. It has now said that users are free to not accept the new policy update. WhatsApp had even indicated that users accounts would be negatively impacted if they did not accept the new privacy policy.

The goal behind WhatsApp moves is to figure out new ways to monetize its vast user base and data. But with WhatsApp encryption, it cannot really do it. However, if this change does happen, how many WhatsApp users will leave the platform and delete their accounts? Notably, there was a huge migration of users to other, better encrypted platforms such as Telegram and Signal after Facebook sought to foist an updated privacy policy on WhatsApp users last time.

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First Published Date: 04 Aug, 02:36 PM IST
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