12132 Google confirms WhatsApp wasn’t spying on you, it was an Android bug

Google confirms WhatsApp wasn’t spying on you, it was an Android bug

155545 Google confirms WhatsApp wasn't spying on you, it was an Android bug

A couple of months back, WhatsApp raised suspicions of spying on its users as many people reported noticing the app using their phone’s microphone even when not in use. Turns out an Android bug was erroneously pushing microphone usage alerts on Privacy Dashboard. The Meta-owned platform wasn’t listening to you all the time, thankfully. Affected users can install the latest version of the app to stop this seemingly creepy behavior that isn’t actually a problem.

WhatsApp users have been reporting this untriggered microphone usage problem since at least March this year. Their Android phone’s Privacy Dashboard showed that the app is continuously using the microphone for several minutes in quick succession. That’s despite the app not running in the background (removed from recent apps), let alone being used actively in the foreground. An update for the messaging service fixed the issue for some but others were out of luck.

Needless to say, this was a major privacy concern. After remaining mum for a few weeks, WhatsApp said in early May that it was an Android bug that was incorrectly reporting microphone usage on Privacy Dashboard. The company assured users that the app isn’t listening to them all the time. WhatsApp added that it has asked Google to investigate and remediate the problem. But not everyone may have come across its statement, so it was still a worry for them.

Moreover, it’s always a privacy concern if your Android phone is showing alerts for untriggered microphone or camera usage, regardless of whether or not any app is actually using it. Thankfully, the latest update for WhatsApp stops those erroneous alerts. For added peace of mind, Google recently acknowledged that the issue was indeed caused by an Android bug. So you can rest assured that WhatsApp wasn’t spying on you.


Google didn’t specify whether it has fixed the Android bug

Interestingly, Google didn’t specify whether it has fixed the bug in the Android Privacy Dashboard or worked on a resolution for WhatsApp triggering the bug to produce erroneous microphone usage alerts. All it said is that the bug affected a limited number of WhatsApp users, and the problem doesn’t exist in the latest version of the app. Android expert Mishaal Rahman says there haven’t been any relevant patches in the source code for the May 2023 Google Play System Updates. Hopefully, the Android maker has patched the bug and there won’t be similar issues with WhatsApp or any other app in the future.

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