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Twitter The Guardian Geolocation

Whisper states the Guardian will ‘regret’ making claims that the app tracks users without permission


By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

October 19, 2014 | 3 min read

Whisper, the social media app which allows users to anonymously post, has denied tracking its users’ locations without permission.

Whisper app

The app, which describes itself as “the safest place on the internet”, denied the claims that it tracks the location of users - including some who have specifically asked not to be followed - put forward in an expose by the Guardian.

Saying it “does not follow or track users”, Whisper told the Guardian that its accusations were false.

The expose stated that after being approached by the Guardian for a comment, Whisper changed its terms of service to explicitly permit the company to establish the broad location of people who have disabled the app’s geolocation feature.

Paul Lewis and Dominic Rushe wrote in the expose “Whisper has developed an in-house mapping tool that allows its staff to filter and search GPS data, pinpointing messages to within 500 meters of where they were sent.

“The technology, for example, enables the company to monitor all the geolocated messages sent from the Pentagon and National Security Agency. It also allows Whisper to track an individual user’s movements over time.”

However, Whisper’s editor-in-chief, Neetzan Zimmerman took to Twitter to say the expose was “lousy with falsehoods” and suggested that the newspaper would “regret” writing the article.

When someone suggested the comments from Zimmerman sounded ‘scary’, he replied that if the Guardian came after Whisper, it should be fine with Whisper doing the same to the newspaper.

The Guardian’s expose said that a team at Whisper – led by Zimmerman – is monitoring users it believes are potentially newsworthy, including people who claim to work at Capitol Hill in the US, Yahoo and more.

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