One of the most popular messaging apps, WhatsApp, owned by Meta (formerly Facebook), reportedly has concerns about its privacy practices. A former Google engineer, Foad Dabiri, and Twitter engineer reported an issue when he found that WhatsApp accessed his Pixel 7 device’s microphone during the night, even when he wasn’t using his mobile.

WhatsApp claims that an Android bug causes the microphone to be constantly used in the background.

After sharing his privacy concern with WhatsApp on his Pixel 7 Pro, it’s still unclear how many WhatsApp users have been affected by this. Users have reported this issue for over a month with no confirmed fix yet. To check WhatsApp’s microphone use, Android’s Privacy Dashboard gives you a timeline of when an app accessed your microphone, providing more transparency. Overnight, WhatsApp uses the microphone nine times without any interactions.

WhatsApp blames an Android bug for constant background microphone usage on Android devices and suspects Google software might be the cause.

Users are concerned about their privacy and whether or not WhatsApp is accessing their personal information without their knowledge. Users are advised that if they are concerned about their privacy, they can disable the WhatsApp microphone. WhatsApp users are also criticized for their privacy practices and cannot be trusted for Meta. Suspicious situations, like seeing ads for products after talking about them with friends, are more likely due to sophisticated ad trackers.

This problem is not isolated, and this similar issue on various devices, including Pixel and Samsung devices, and this widespread problem is cause for concern. This issue is not entirely clear, and WhatsApp asked Google to investigate the issue. WhatsApp reassures users that they have full control over their microphone settings and that the app only uses the microphone when the user is making a call or sending a voice note or video.

WhatsApp using microphone when not in use
by u/amzlord in S22Ultra

WhatsApp acknowledges this and has shared that this issue is not a problem with its own app but rather a problem with Android bug. WhatsApp believes that big entries showing microphone access are misattributed and has contacted Google to investigate further. It’s highly unlikely that Facebook is spying on users through their phones’ microphone. Google’s Android Privacy Dashboard shows a history of app permissions, including microphone use, and the report being shared is just a small portion of what his phone captured.

After this was surfaced, Twitter CEO Elon Musk took this opportunity to criticize WhatsApp for accessing the microphone suspiciously and advised users not to trust WhatsApp. Musk also says that the founder of WhatsApp left Meta in disgust and even started a campaign to encourage people to delete their Facebook account and also made significant contributions to build Signal, a secure messaging app.