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San Francisco, May 10 – Meta-owned WhatsApp and Google have acknowledged a bug that seems to be allowing WhatsApp to access phones’ microphones unnecessarily on some Android devices.
The issue first surfaced a month ago, but it received renewed attention after a Twitter engineer mentioned it in a post boosted by Elon Musk, reports Engadget.
Twitter engineer Foad Dabiri recently shared an image that raised concerns about the app’s privacy practices. The image appeared to show that the app’s microphone was continuously running in the background, even when not in use.
Dabiri tweeted a screenshot from the Privacy Dashboard on his Android device, which revealed how frequently the app accessed his microphone and camera.
“WhatsApp has been using the microphone in the background, while I was asleep and since I woke up at 6 a.m. (and that’s just a part of the timeline!) What’s going on?,” he tweeted.
Later, Musk retweeted Dabiri’s post, saying “WhatsApp cannot be trusted”.
According to a statement shared on Twitter by WhatsApp, the problem was caused by an Android-related issue rather than inappropriate microphone access by the messaging app.
“We believe this is a bug on Android that mis-attributes information in their Privacy Dashboard and have asked Google to investigate and remediate,” the company said.