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The Guardian Backtracks On WhatsApp 'Backdoor' Report (theguardian.com) 48

Five months after The Guardian published an investigative report, in which it found a "backdoor" in the Facebook-owned service, the publication is finally making amendments. The January report immediately stirred controversy among security experts, who began questioning The Guardian's piece. Weeks later, Zeynep Tufekci, a researcher and op-ed writer for the New York Times, published an open letter with over 70 major security researchers working at major universities and companies like Google condemning the story, and asking the publication to retract it.. Paul Chadwick, The Guardian's reader's editor, said "The Guardian was wrong to report last January that the popular messaging service WhatsApp had a security flaw so serious that it was a huge threat to freedom of speech." From his article: In a detailed review I found that misinterpretations, mistakes and misunderstandings happened at several stages of the reporting and editing process. Cumulatively they produced an article that overstated its case. The Guardian ought to have responded more effectively to the strong criticism the article generated from well-credentialled experts in the arcane field of developing and adapting end-to-end encryption for a large-scale messaging service. The original article -- now amended and associated with the conclusions of this review -- led to follow-up coverage, some of which sustained the wrong impression given at the outset. The most serious inaccuracy was a claim that WhatsApp had a "backdoor", an intentional, secret way for third parties to read supposedly private messages. This claim was withdrawn within eight hours of initial publication online, but withdrawn incompletely. The story retained material predicated on the existence of a backdoor, including strongly expressed concerns about threats to freedom, betrayal of trust and benefits for governments which surveil. In effect, having dialled back the cause for alarm, the Guardian failed to dial back expressions of alarm.
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The Guardian Backtracks On WhatsApp 'Backdoor' Report

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    you would still be an idiot for using a facebook product.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't want to make this a right v left thing but I want to genuinely ask how we can trust the media. CNN and The NY Times have both had huge retractions recently and now this.

    The real issue as I see it is that it's not a fog of war issue where mistakes happen, it's all driven by a business requirement for more viewers or visitors. Everyone wants a salatious headline to keep eyeballs. How do we get to a place where the media just presents the dry, boring and honest truth?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Look to those who offer retractions and publish information on their mistakes rather than blindly pressing ahead in the face of contradictory facts.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Exactly. I don't condemn anyone for admitting a mistake. I'm suspicious of anyone who will never admit to a mistake.

        • Re: Media trust. (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          What about people who only admit mistakes when caught?

          Because that's who you are defending. They aren't sorry about the lies (they keep printing them). They're sorry the lies were so blatant as to be obvious.

    • Reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine?
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairness_Doctrine [wikipedia.org]

      The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was — in the Commission's view — honest, equitable, and balanced. The FCC, which was believed to have been under pressure from then President Ronald Reagan, eliminated the Doctrine in 1987. The FCC formally removed the language that implemented the Doctrine, in August 2011.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The difference between fake news and these guys is that they publish corrections.

      People deride Breitbart etc. because they don't own up to their mistakes and correct/retract them.

      • It doesn't matter if they own up to their mistakes after the damage is already done. How many months did it take Guardian to fully correct their original incompetence?

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          What do you propose instead? No-one publish any news just in case it turns out to be incorrect? One mistake and burn the whole organization to the ground?

          • by vakuona ( 788200 )

            Maybe they should allow the person they are accusing a fair hearing before they publish. Their research could have been proven to be hopelessly wrong, and they would have avoided publishing the fake news.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You can't trust any media these days, whether private company, state owned, individual blogger, etc. You really have to read them all and make an informed decision on what the truth really is. It's much tougher than just reading and believing every twatter or fakebook link, but there are still some of us out there who can think.

      Of all the news sources, my first goto is still the BBC, but if I have time to check multiple sources, I do so, because even the BBC has biases.

      CNN is absolute trash. Just panders to

    • This is a dumb thing to say on an article about a newspaper making corrections. If anything, there are no institutions more transparent and beholden to scrutiny than the press. I mean, if you probably shouldn't trust anything you read, if you can't figure that out, if only because you're a poor judge of information .

    • Trust the media that retracts stories when they rarely are wrong, and do not trust the media that never retracts stories because they are wrong every day on purpose. It is not difficult.

      This increases my trust in the Guardian.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    All these closed source messaging programs have backdoors (especially anything by facebook). That should be obvious by now. The guardian just received a nasty letter from the spies in the government to keep its mouth shut, an offer they can't refuse. The entire industry has a gun to its head and is being ordered to discredit the truth. The 'retraction' is a lie. The backdoors do exist.

  • the facebook administration that gives your data to their corporate overlords are the backdoor
  • Freedom of speech is not at stake. Freedom after speech is what this impairs.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    When WhatsApp or any other app is updated, and a seemingly small update needs several weeks to be processed by Apple or whoever, will you be downloading the app that was submitted, or one that has been modified? There's no way for you to know.

    Consider those 4 weeks the time needed to modify the app before publishing it, to be able to listen in on certain targets, or why not everyone. It's not you who publish the app, you just make _an_app and submit the source code for it, and Apple, or really specifically

  • by hackel ( 10452 ) on Wednesday June 28, 2017 @01:29PM (#54705851) Journal

    Unless Facebook actually went so far as to release the source code to WhatsApp, we have NO IDEA what it contains. that's the whole point. The Guardian shouldn't have been making claims that they could not substantiate. But likewise, no one should be defending WhatsApp in this case. Anyone who relies on proprietary software for security or encryption is just asking for trouble.

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