Five months after publication, the Guardian‘s readers editor Paul Chadwick concluded the newspaper’s January article on messaging service WhatsApp was “flawed. The article, Chadwick noted, “overstated the risk” of someone hacking into WhatsApp messages while they are in transmission.
After talking to experts, Chadwick said the potential risk wasn’t that great and it would be hard for anyone to hack messages. WhatsApp has more than 1 billion users, according to its website, and was bought by Facebook in 2014.
“The Guardian was wrong to report in January that the popular messaging service WhatsApp had a security flaw so serious that it was a huge threat to freedom of speech,” Chadwick wrote. The exaggerated reporting had real effects, he noted, explaining that one Turkish government official pointed to the article as a reason for people not to use WhatsApp and other activists decided against using WhatsApp’s secure messaging because of the article. iMediaEthics has written to WhatsApp to ask what response it saw to the article — were users complaining or not using the service, for example.
“In a detailed review I found that misinterpretations, mistakes and misunderstandings happened at several stages of the reporting and editing process,” Chadwick explained. “Cumulatively they produced an article that overstated its case.”
The article currently has the following correction:
“This article was amended on 13 January 2017 to remove the word “backdoor” to describe the design feature; on 25 January 2017 to summarise and link to concerns of security experts about the article; and on 28 June 2017 following the findings of a review by the Guardian readers’ editor, which can be read here.”
Hat Tip: Press Gazette