[Updated] WhatsApp allegedly accessing microphone on Google Pixel 7, Galaxy S23 & other phones even when not in use (workaround inside)
Here’s a glimpse of the article in video form:
New updates are being added at the bottom of this story…….
Original story (published on May 4, 2023) follows:
WhatsApp is currently the most popular messaging app in the world. It managed to establish its dominance from birth by allowing free unlimited messaging at a time when text messages were still relatively expensive.
WhatsApp has been part of the big technology conglomerate META (Facebook) for some years now. This has raised some concerns related to user data privacy due to Zuckerberg’s company background.
Now, there are WhatsApp users claiming that the app is accessing the microphone on their smartphones even when it is not in use.
WhatsApp allegedly accessing microphone even when not in use
The issue is not exactly new, since there have been similar reports for weeks. People have been able to notice the use of the microphone thanks to the ‘Privacy Indicators’ feature (present since Android 12).
‘Privacy Indicators’ basically adds a little green notification in the top right edge of the screen when some sensitive permission (microphone or camera access) is in use.
That said, multiple WhatsApp users have noticed that the little green dot with a microphone is still active even after exiting or closing the app.
Microphone always keep switched on after Whatsapp call.
The green dot on the upper right corner on my screen is always on and the microphone is used by the WhatsApp. Green dot disappear after restarting but again appears after making a Whatsapp call. This is happening for last 15-20 days.
WhatsApp permission for microphone
I have given the permission of microphone to WhatsApp to use it while using the app , but it shows using microphone even after I stop using WhatsApp or also after I remove the WhatsApp from the running apps
For reference, the icon should only be active while the hardware involved is in use. For example, in the case of the microphone, the green dot will appear when recording voice notes, making video calls, etc.
However, after checking the ‘Permissions History’ section on Android settings, some users have found that WhatsApp has been accessing the microphone in the background.
Several related reports come from users of Google Pixel smartphones (including the Pixel 7 series). However, there are also reports from users of Samsung Galaxy devices (including the Galaxy S23 series) and others.
Why is my WhatsApp using my microphone all the time
I’m using s22 ultra and I receive a green dot saying microphone is being used by WhatsApp even when the app is closed.
Same issues, s21 ultra, whatsapp seems to reproduce this error almost instantly.
A couple of potential workarounds
That said, some reports suggest that the situation is actually caused by a bug, and there are a couple of potential workarounds that could help you resolve it.
First, a redditor points out that the bug could have been fixed in a recent WhatsApp update. After updating it to the latest version available, restarting the phone was enough to solve it.
Another redditor suggests an alternative method. This consists of revoking the sensitive permissions to the WhatsApp app (microphone and camera), restarting the device and then re-enabling the permissions.
Revoking permission then restarting my phone and then enabling it again helped me solve the issue. (for now)
There is still no official word from the WhatsApp team on this situation. We will update this story as events unfold.
Update 1 (May 10, 2023)
09:04 am (IST): According WhatsApp support, this is a bug in Android that mis-attributes information in Privacy Dashboard. Moreover, they’ve asked Google to investigate it.
Over the last 24 hours we’ve been in touch with a Twitter engineer who posted an issue with his Pixel phone and WhatsApp. We believe this is a bug on Android that mis-attributes information in their Privacy Dashboard and have asked Google to investigate and remediate. (Source)
Update 2 (May 11, 2023)
01:30 pm (IST): The minister stated that the government will investigate the alleged breach of privacy while preparing the new Digital Personal Data Protection Bill.
Update 3 (June 21, 2023)
11:21 am (IST): Google has acknowledged this issue and confirmed that the latest WhatsApp update fixes the problem.
A recent Android bug affecting a limited number of WhatsApp users produced erroneous privacy indicators and notifications in the Android Privacy Dashboard. Users can now update their WhatsApp app to address this issue. We thank WhatsApp for their partnership and apologize for any confusion this bug may have caused users. (Source)
PiunikaWeb started as purely an investigative tech journalism website with main focus on ‘breaking’ or ‘exclusive’ news. In no time, our stories got picked up by the likes of Forbes, Foxnews, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Engadget, The Verge, Macrumors, and many others. Want to know more about us? Head here.