In addition to the misinformation prevalent about end-to-end encryption, a misleading report by the nonprofit ProPublica editorial board recently questioned the integrity of WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption. While collecting metadata is indeed a concern for WhatsApp, the report claims that WhatsApp reads messages with its ‘extensive monitoring’.
The WhatsApp reporting feature does not interrupt end-to-end encryption
Like any other social platform, WhatsApp has a content moderation team that reviews user reports. Whenever a user reports a conversation, the last 5 messages are sent to WhatsApp for moderation. In fact, this is clearly stated in the report popup, as you can see in the image below:
Reacting to the report, a WhatsApp spokesman said the following: “WhatsApp allows people to report spam or abuse, which includes sharing the latest chat messages. This feature is important to prevent the worst abuse on the internet. We strongly disagree with the view that accepting a report that a user chooses to send us is incompatible with end-to-end encryption. “
Shortly after WhatsApp’s statement, ProPublica updated the post to clarify the original report. “The previous version of this story caused unintentional confusion about the extent to which WhatsApp examines its users’ messages and whether it violates encryption that keeps exchanges secret. We changed the language in the story to clarify that the company only examines messages from threads that users have reported as potentially offensive. It doesn’t interrupt end-to-end encryption, ” reads the update.
Reporting a message would not interrupt end-to-end encryption because intent to report is a feature to help avoid negative interactions on the platform. You can learn more about the WhatsApp security model in our detailed comparison of WhatsApp vs Telegram vs Signal.