Mic check: WhatsApp's microphone access bug

Emre Çitak
May 10, 2023

WhatsApp and Google have confirmed that a bug is causing some Android devices to report unnecessary microphone access by the messaging app. The issue was first reported a month ago, but gained renewed attention after a Twitter engineer's post was retweeted by Elon Musk.

The bug appears to have affected some Pixel and Samsung devices and can result in the microphone running repeatedly in the background, even when the app is not in use. While the bug has been known for a month, it is only now that the companies are taking steps to investigate and address the issue.

WhatsApp microphone access bug is being investigated

The bug, which has caused concerns about WhatsApp's trustworthiness, appears to be an Android-related issue. According to WABetaInfo, it is not a result of inappropriate microphone access by the messaging app, but rather a mis-attribution of information in the Android Privacy Dashboard. The company has asked Google to investigate and remediate the issue. Meanwhile, Google has confirmed that it is working closely with WhatsApp to investigate the matter, but has said little about the possible cause of the discrepancy.

The bug affects devices running on Android, making it a significant issue for a large number of users. It has been causing unnecessary microphone access, which can have privacy implications. For example, it can lead to the recording of background noise, which could include sensitive information. The bug is said to have affected some Pixel and Samsung devices, and restarting the phone may offer a possible fix.

Elon Musk's retweet

Elon Musk's retweet of the Twitter engineer's post has added to concerns about WhatsApp's privacy and trustworthiness. Musk is a known supporter of encrypted messaging app Signal and has suggested that encrypted direct messages could be coming to Twitter as soon as this month. While Musk's retweet drew attention to the issue, neither he nor Twitter have issued a formal comment on the matter.

You may see Dabiri's tweet which Musk replied below.

The WhatsApp microphone access bug is a significant issue that affects some Android devices. While the companies are investigating the matter, users are advised to be cautious about using the app until a fix has been issued. In the meantime, it is recommended that users check their device's Privacy Dashboard to monitor microphone access and take steps to protect their privacy.

The incident highlights the importance of regular software updates and the need for companies to be transparent about the bugs that affect their products.


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  1. Anonymous said on May 25, 2023 at 4:41 am

    What’s the risk here anyway ? It’s just Facebook.

  2. it's okay i'm electric said on May 11, 2023 at 6:32 am

    The built in “FM Radio” app on many Android phones automatically has access to the “microphone.” Now why would this be? Just more spyware?

  3. modern_tech_is_slavery said on May 11, 2023 at 4:47 am

    Maybe it’s a feature that aimed to do our lives much easier and totally for our benefits.
    Yes I believe this.
    Big corps are good and corporate people are just nice.
    Privacy is bad thing.
    Old internet circa 90’s was a crap like thing without constant tracking, adverts, multi billion dollars (per month) revenue corps.
    So exciting.
    We will have nothing soon and we’ll be happy.

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