WhatsApp Uses a Microphone Without Asking Users

According to the reports that are spreading online, the Android version of WhatsApp uses a microphone in the background without the user’s knowledge.

In this article, we will tell you everything that is known and what was the reaction of Elon Musk.

Is WhatsApp safe and secure? Read more here.

What happened?

It all started with engineer Foad Dabiri, who told about it on his Twitter back on May 6. He showed logs from the “Privacy Panel”, which show that the messenger regularly used the microphone in the background — and even while the author was asleep.

WhatsApp privacy issue

Then, some WhatsApp for Android users noticed that the app was accessing the smartphone microphone too often. Representatives of the messenger claim that the problem is caused by a bug in the operating system.

While accessing the microphone, Android displays a green dot in the upper corner of the screen. In addition, on the latest versions of Android, the history of requests for sensitive data is recorded in the “Permissions Control Panel” section of the system settings.

The WhatsApp alternative list is here.

Elon Musk’s reaction

Even Elon Musk drew attention to the problem. The billionaire said on his Twitter that WhatsApp cannot be trusted. The network is still looking for the culprit. Some suggest that this is Meta surveillance, others say that this is a Google error.

Musk then joined the discussion, during which he stated that the creators of WhatsApp had left Facebook “with disgust” at the time, initiating the #deletefacebook Internet campaign and making an important contribution to the creation of the Signal messenger. Recall that the scandal with the emergence of a new Internet trend occurred back in 2018.

Musk added: “What they found out about Facebook and the changes about WhatsApp obviously worried them a lot.” Almost simultaneously, Musk announced that Twitter would support its own calls and encrypted messages.

However, the WhatsApp team itself has already stated on Twitter that the problem is probably related to an Android OS bug and representatives of the messenger have already contacted Google to fix the problem. WhatsApp claims that after obtaining permission to access the microphone, the application normally uses it only to make voice calls and record voice messages.

It is worth noting that Pavel Durov also criticized the messenger, stating that WhatsApp is full of vulnerabilities. Durov himself, according to him, deleted the messenger many years ago — it has long been a surveillance tool.

WhatsApp privacy checking

How to check if WhatsApp is following you

This advice will be relevant only for Android smartphone users (no complaints have been received from iPhone users).

  1. 1. Go to “Settings”;
  2. 2. Find the “Applications” section;
  3. 3. In the list, find WhatsApp or another application of interest;
  4. 4. Go to “Permissions”.

In the menu that appears, you will see whether the program uses the microphone and other smartphone settings. The same data can be viewed in the Privacy section. 

In Google Pixel devices, you can study the timeline that displays specific periods of use of a particular resolution. If you suspect that WhatsApp is eavesdropping on you, take away access to the microphone from the messenger. Note that in this case, voice calls and voice message recordings will not be available to you.


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