WhatsApp users on Android are reporting a bug that makes it appear as if WhatsApp is accessing their devices’ microphones even when users are not making a call or using WhatsApp. Also Read - Paytm launches UPI Lite on iOS, RuPay credit card support on Android: How to use them
Google and WhatsApp confirmed that they are aware of the bug and WhatsApp has asked Google to investigate it. Also Read - WhatsApp may soon get a Telegram-like channel feature: What it is, why should you care?
This issue was first reported on Twitter a month ago, but it gained traction yesterday. A WhatsApp user, Foad Dabiri, sharing a screenshot of Android’s Privacy Dashboard, which tracks how often apps access a device’s microphone and camera, via Twitter said that WhatsApp was using his device’s microphone in the background while he was sleeping. Also Read - LinkedIn cuts over 700 jobs, shuts down China-based InCareers app
He said, “WhatsApp has been using the microphone in the background, while I was asleep and since I woke up at 6AM (and that’s just a part of the timeline!) What’s going on?”
Further escalating the issue, Elon Musk retweeted Dabiri’s tweet and said that WhatsApp cannot be trusted.
WhatsApp cannot be trusted https://t.co/3gdNxZOLLy
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2023
In India, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MoS MeitY, called it an unacceptable breach and violation of privacy.
He tweeted, “This is an unacceptable breach n violation of #Privacy We will be examinig this immdtly and will act on any violation of privacy even as new Digital Personal Data protection bill #DPDP is being readied.”
This is an unacceptable breach n violation of #Privacy
We will be examinig this immdtly and will act on any violation of privacy even as new Digital Personal Data protection bill #DPDP is being readied.@GoI_MeitY @_DigitalIndia https://t.co/vtFrST4bKP
— Rajeev Chandrasekhar 🇮🇳 (@Rajeev_GoI) May 10, 2023
WhatsApp in a statement via Twitter said that this is a bug on Android, which misattributes information on the privacy dashboard. It has asked Google to investigate and rectify the issue.
WhatsApp said, “We believe this is a bug on Android that mis-attributes information in their Privacy Dashboard and have asked Google to investigate and remediate.”
Over the last 24 hours we’ve been in touch with a Twitter engineer who posted an issue with his Pixel phone and WhatsApp.
We believe this is a bug on Android that mis-attributes information in their Privacy Dashboard and have asked Google to investigate and remediate. https://t.co/MnBi3qE6Gp
— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) May 9, 2023
Past Incident and how to fix microphone’s issue on WhatsApp
Dabiri was not the first one to spot the bug, a Twitter user, RK Agasti, in April tweeted about the bug. Tweeting a video, Agasti asked WhatsApp why the app is using his device’s microphone.
He said, “Team why WhatsApp using mic There is no call either.”
WABetaInfo replied to Agasti’s tweet and describe the bug as a false positive and said restarting the device can help.
WABetaInfo said, “This is a false positive due to a bug, as reported by other people in the past. Restarting the device can help.”
This is a false positive due to a bug, as reported by other people in the past. Restarting the device can help. https://t.co/WR3miijVKwhttps://t.co/pSZOiSBWwjhttps://t.co/8oiQNiBe8ahttps://t.co/nFrRogWOCs
— WABetaInfo (@WABetaInfo) April 9, 2023
Meanwhile, Whatsapp is planning to roll out the ‘Channels’ feature in its platform. Currently, this feature is under testing in both iOS and Android versions of the app. WhatsApp channels will allow users to create a channel for broadcasting information to public at large. People can subscribe to channels to receive regular updates on areas of their interest.
In a separate world, Elon Musk announced the release of encrypted DMs on Twitter, which could roll out as early as this month.
Elon Musk said, “Release of encrypted DMs V1.0 should happen tomorrow. This will grow in sophistication rapidly. The acid test is that I could not see your DMs even if there was a gun to my head.”
With latest version of app, you can DM reply to any message in the thread (not just most recent) and use any emoji reaction.
Release of encrypted DMs V1.0 should happen tomorrow. This will grow in sophistication rapidly. The acid test is that I could not see your DMs even if…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2023