WhatsApp advertises that the chats are end-to-end encrypted and that the company cannot read users' messages. This is not entirely true, because in a certain case WhatsApp can actually read the messages despite encryption.
WhatsApp can read reported messages
What sounds like a scandal at first, is not in the end. The magazine ProPublica published an article that WhatsApp can read encrypted messages and "How Facebook undermines the privacy of its two billion WhatsApp users". According to this, 1,000 employees should be able to access messages. In contrast to Facebook and Instagram, this does not work with artificial intelligence, precisely because the chats are encrypted.
The current message is basically correct that WhatsApp can actually read your messages in certain cases despite end-to-end encryption. But that only happens when your messages are reported. So if you insult other people, intimidate them or commit other shameful acts and the other person reports this attack to WhatsApp, the encryption is canceled and the last five messages are transmitted to WhatsApp. This is also confirmed by the professionals at WABetaInfo:
When a message is reported to WhatsApp, it must be analyzed and evaluated. This is what the many employees who protect WhatsApp users are there for. So it is not the case that WhatsApp can read every message arbitrarily . This prevents end-to-end encryption. For your own protection, this will only be lifted if you feel threatened or harassed and report someone to secure evidence.
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Facebook confirms the procedure with WhatsApp
The allegations were directly commented on by Facebook, as the story was worded in a misleading manner. The company confirms the procedure towards 9to5mac and warns users when reporting an incident via WhatsApp that the last five messages will also be sent. In the end, the only thing new about the story is how many employees Facebook has assigned to moderate such incidents. With over 2 billion users worldwide, these are probably necessary.