Which WhatsApp messages can Facebook read?

In 2021, Facebook announced its intention to further integrate Messenger WhatsApp. Many fear for their privacy and the security of their messages. Not without reason, because Facebook can view the contents of reported WhatsApp messages when they are checked.

Facebook is quite transparent in dealing with conspicuous accounts on Instagram and Facebook. The company regularly reports how many accounts are suspended or sanctioned due to conspicuous behavior. Unlike WhatsApp, content on Facebook and Instagram is not encrypted. With the account check on WhatsApp, Facebook is therefore keeping a low profile. Now the US medium “ProPublica ” reports that the company can read messages despite end-to-end encryption. What is true about the report, atechbook has found out.

Moderators check thousands of messages a day

According to “ProPublica “, “more than 1000 contract workers are sitting in office floors in Austin, Texas, Dublin and Singapore. (…) There, they examine millions of pieces of user content.” In interviews, several moderators would have confirmed that the content review at WhatsApp runs exactly like at Facebook and Instagram. According to the report, each moderator works through 600 tickets every day – just one minute per message.

However, the control of reported chats works differently than on Facebook and Instagram. Since content is encrypted, moderators can only see content if users use the “Report contact” function. This sends the message they believe violates the terms of use – as well as the previous four. This also includes pictures and videos, which are then directly viewable by WhatsApp.

Exposing lies in WhatsApp chats and other messengers

Facebook and WhatsApp respond to the accusations

Facebook hat jedoch bereits auf den “ProPublica “-Bericht reagiert. Das Unternehmen schreibt, dass es sich dabei um ein Missverständnis handele. Mit Blick auf die WhatsApp terms of use sagte Facebook gegenüber “9To5Mac”, dass gemeldete Nachrichten automatisch an Facebook weitergeleitet würden. Das funktioniert im Prinzip genau wie das normale Weiterleiten an die eigenen Kontakte. Auf dem eigenen Gerät ist die Nachricht bereits entschlüsselt und kann daher an andere Personen geschickt werden. Sobald man die Nachricht an Facebook gemeldet hat, ist diese jedoch wieder Ende-zu-Ende-verschlüsselt und somit nur für die Moderatoren einsehbar, die den Inhalt überprüfen. Facebook bestärkte zudem, dass nur gemeldete Nachrichten sichtbar seien. Alle anderen Inhalte, die sich WhatsApp-Nutzende zuschicken, seien weiterhin verschlüsselt und damit auch für Facebook nicht zugänglich.

Users may be surprised by the fact that the four previous messages go to Facebook along with the reported message. However, this is already stated in WhatsApp’s terms of use: “WhatsApp receives the most recent messages you have received from the reported user or group.” So the company cannot be blamed in this regard.


  • ProPublica
  • 9To5Mac
  • WhatsApp terms of use