WhatsApp and privacy: Over 1000 employees check reported content


WhatsApp promises the greatest possible privacy through end-to-end encryption, but at the same time has to comply with laws and give users the opportunity to protect themselves against inappropriate or even illegal messages and content. To this end, the messenger service employs more than 1000 people on different continents who check content reported by users.

To Information from Propublica these “content checkers” are located in offices in Texas, Ireland and Singapore. These are not called moderators because they cannot delete individual messages, as is possible, for example, with WhatsApp mother Facebook itself or Instagram. With WhatsApp, the examiners can only switch the reported user account to further observation or delete it completely.

Since WhatsApp encrypts messages end-to-end, the messenger service is dependent on reported violations of terms of use or laws. An automatic search of the chats with algorithms of artificial intelligence is not possible – as with Facebook and Instagram. Therefore, around 1000 examiners are probably enough for the according to Statista more than 151 million monthly active WhatsApp users worldwide, whereas Facebook and Instagram require around 15,000 moderators.

When a WhatsApp user reports another, WhatsApp receives the last five messages including pictures and videos in unencrypted form, explained former content reviewers Propublica. An automated system sorts these and presents them to employees for review. At the same time, an artificial intelligence should also check the unencrypted data for suspicious information and content.

While Propublica calls this approach WhatsApps breach of promise, other experts are more understanding. This is what Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundationthat reporting inappropriate content does not undermine WhatsApps end-to-end encryption. After all, this is comparable to when someone takes a screen recording of the chat and shares it with others.


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