In addition to the prevailing misinformation about end-to-end encryption, a misleading report from the non-profit editorial ProPublica recently questioned the integrity of WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption. While metadata collection is indeed a concern for WhatsApp, the report said WhatsApp reads messages with its “extensive monitoring operation.”
WhatsApp’s reporting feature doesn’t break end-to-end encryption
Just like every other social platform, WhatsApp has a content moderation team to review 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 pop-up, as you can see in the image below:
In response to the report, a WhatsApp spokesperson said the following: “WhatsApp offers people a way to report spam or abuse, which includes sharing the most recent messages in a chat. This feature is important for preventing the worst abuse on the Internet. We strongly disagree with the idea that accepting reports a user chooses to send us is incompatible with end-to-end encryption. “
Immediately following the WhatsApp statement, ProPublica updated the post to clarify the original report. “An earlier version of this story caused unintended confusion about the extent to which WhatsApp examines its users’ messages and whether it violates the encryption that keeps the exchanges secret. We changed the language in the story to clarify that the company only examines messages from threads that have been reported by users as potentially offensive. Does not violate end-to-end encryption “, reads the update.
Reporting a message would not break end-to-end encryption as the intention of the reporting functionality is to avoid negative interactions in the platform. You can learn more about WhatsApp’s security model in our detailed WhatsApp vs Telegram vs Signal comparison.