Apps are tracking WhatsApp users’ online activity, including whom they’re likely talking to and when they’re sleeping

mturner@businessinsider.com (Matt Turner)-Sun, September 20, 2020, 10:47 AM EDT

Hello!

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is likely to make intense political polarization in the US even more severe.

Ginsburg’s death opened up a vacancy on the Supreme Court that President Trump said he will fill as quickly as possible. But a new national survey from Insider found that most respondents disagree with the plan to fill the seat as soon as possible. You can get the latest on the response to Ginsburg’s death right here.

I started last week’s email by recounting when I first heard about Facebook. My first experience with Whatsapp came later.

As many of my friends and relatives moved overseas in the 2010s, it became my primary method of communication with many. And now, while I barely ever open Facebook, I’m constantly turning to Whatsapp. 

Part of the appeal has been its approach to privacy. But as we reported this week, that may not be everything it seems. 

WhatsApp prides itself on its approach to privacy.

But the user data that the Facebook-owned messaging app shares publicly is allowing dozens of outside apps to track aspects of WhatsApp users’ online activity — including whom they’re likely talking to, when they’re sleeping, and when they’re using their devices. 

These apps and services use the “online” signaling feature within WhatsApp to enable their users to monitor the digital habits of anyone using WhatsApp without their knowledge or consent, Business Insider has found.

These intrusive apps highlight how even services that strongly protect users’ privacy in some ways — like WhatsApp’s commitment to encryption — can still expose data that can be used to track their users.

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