Regularly criticized for its sometimes cavalier view of privacy, Meta isn’t to blame for the always-on mic issue seen in some cases with the Android version of WhatsApp.
Would WhatsApp listen to its Android users by constantly activating their microphone, even if it is neither wanted nor desirable? This was the question posed at the end of last week by Foad Dabiri, a Twitter engineer, who noticed an abnormal behavior of messaging, marked by permanent use of the microphone. Understand that WhatsApp let it run in the background all day, from morning until late at night, including when the app was not in use.
WhatsApp has since taken up Foad Dabiri’s tweet, explaining that he spoke with the engineer and indicating that this unwanted triggering of the microphone was due to a bug. It must be said that WhatsApp had every interest in speaking up quickly. A few hours earlier, Elon Musk quoted Foad Dabiri’s tweet to declare to its 139 million subscribers that ” WhatsApp is not trustworthy “.
A bug from Android?
In detail, WhatsApp explains that this almost constant activation of the microphone in the background, observed on certain Android devices, would be due to a bug specific to Google’s OS having the effect ” incorrectly assign permissions from the Privacy Dashboard “. The platform explains that it asked Google to conduct the investigation to understand the origin of the problem and resolve this bug.
The Meta subsidiary also recalls that users retain full control of their microphone and the use made of it by WhatsApp from the settings. The group also ensures that in normal times the application ” only accesses the mic when the user makes a call, records a voice note, or makes a video “.
Users have full control over their mic settings
Once granted permission, WhatsApp only accesses the mic when a user is making a call or recording a voice note or video – and even then, these communications are protected by end-to-end encryption so WhatsApp cannot hear them
— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) May 9, 2023
As reminded Neowin, this is not the first time that users have reported misuse of the microphone by WhatsApp. At the beginning of May, the specialized site Piunikaweb reported, for example, a problem very similar to that reported by Foad Dabiri on Twitter, but observed this time also on the Galaxy S23 and on other devices. However, it seems that the two cases are related and share the same explanation.
If this matter bothers you and you want to be sure to protect your microphone from inappropriate access from WhatsApp, note that it is quite possible to block access to it from your phone settings.
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