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WhatsApp Head Will Cathcart on Privacy, Content Moderation, and Apple Big Technology Podcast
Will Cathcart runs WhatsApp, the 2 billion user app that’s the de facto tool for messaging and calling for many across the globe? Cathcart joins Big Technology Podcast to discuss Facebook’s feud with Apple, it’s battle with Signal, its bungled privacy update, new laws in India that might force it to break encryption, the way it thinks about content moderation and advertising, and plenty more.
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Will Cathcart runs WhatsApp, the 2 billion user app that’s the de facto tool for messaging and calling for many across the globe. Cathcart joins Big Technology Podcast to discuss Facebook’s feud with Apple, its battle with Signal, its bungled privacy update, new laws in India that might force it to break encryption, the way it thinks about content moderation and advertising, and plenty more.
Q&A with WhatsApp’s Will Cathcart-QA WhatsApp Cathcart Facebookapple WhatsApp Indiakantrowitz
A few days later, WhatsApp declared that it would start letting you encrypt a backup of your messages, avoiding anyone who doesn’t have your encoding key (or, instead, a key that you set) from reading the insides of any of your messages. (Alex Moorland has a nice practical overview of how this the whole thing in the edge.
All of these issues are the horizon of Will Cathcart, who seized over WhatsApp in March 2019. Cathcart, who merged Facebook in 2010 after a spell at Google. Previously managed Facebook’s almighty News Feed.
Casey Newton: On Friday you proclaimed that WhatsApp is announcing encrypted backups for its handlers on Android and iOS. How?
Will Cathcart: We’re constantly focused on what we can do to keep the privacy of customers messages. People’s messages are actual sensitive. And the truth is that over time there stay growing threats to people’s privacy — hackers, hostile governments, criminals. And so we’re constantly looking at how can we add more privacy.
We’ve had endways encryption for five years, which means if you send a note to somebody on WhatsApp, we can’t able to see what you sent as it permits through all of our servers. It’s totally safe. We think that’s really significant. But the reality is there’s other belongings we can do to keep people’s messages. One is to really help people’s messages not live forever. We launched vanishing messages late last year, since when I talk to you in being, we don’t typically keep a transcript of the conversation.
How do you do it?-QA WhatsApp Cathcart Facebookapple WhatsApp Indiakantrowitz
That is a hard problematic, because if you retrieve your message in a really end-to-end encrypted way. You take to have a PIN for it. And if you miss your PIN or your phone, you actually have no way to get them back. We don’t have another way to help you if you lose them.
So what we took a long time calculation out how to do was, in what way can we fix this in a way that we touched would be nearby such that a lot of persons would be able to use it? And what we’ve originate up with is there’s two choices you can choose. One is you can save a 64-digit key, and you can save that yourself — you can design it out, you can pen it down. Or you can try to recall it. But I wouldn’t recommend it.
So on one hand, WhatsApp now suggestions a tougher degree of defense to users here than nearly other encrypted messengers, like Apple’s I Message, which doesn’t encode its backups. But WhatsApp came in for reproach last week over the detail that it lets users to story each other, and to comprise recent messages in the reports they give in to. And those intelligences — and messages — are studied by humans. How did that scheme come about?
We’ve had the skill for people to tale for a long time. And appearance, we just cause problems with the disapproval here. If you and I have a private chat, that’s private — [but] that doesn’t uncaring you don’t have the true to go criticize to someone if I say somewhat harassing, aggressive, or dangerous. That’s in what way the actual world works: in the actual world. Two people can have a private conversation and then one of them can go ask for aid and relay what they remained told if they want to. I just ponder that ties how normal people connect.