In October, The Guardian wrote scathing reports about Whisper accusing the anonymous sharing application of spying on its users.
The Guardian had sent a few reporters to Whisper’s headquarters to work on a media partnership. But the reporters came away with an exposé, alleging that Whisper tracks some of its users, even when they have opted out of its geolocation tool.
The report was alarming because Whisper prides itself on being completely anonymous: a community where it’s safe to share any secret, however deep or dark. Further, The Guardian alleged that Whisper sometimes shares user location information with authorities when it deems necessary.
The reports resulted in a months-long investigation into The Guardian’s reporting process and how Whisper operates. Related to the allegations, Whisper’s editorial director Neetzan Zimmerman was placed on leave then left the company. Publishers who had been partnering with Whisper, such as Buzzfeed, paused or terminated their relationships.
Now The Guardian has backpedaled on some of its reporting and issued clarifications and retractions, WSJ reports.
For example, The Guardian re-worded an article about Whisper’s terms of service. The original article suggested Whisper changed its terms of service when it learned The Guardian planned to run its expose. Apparently, the startup had been planning to tweak its terms well before that, in August 2014.
“The Guardian has clarified an article about Whisper’s terms of service and removed an opinion article,” a spokesperson told WSJ. “The substance of our original reporting remains unchanged.”
The removed opinion article was titled, “”Think you can Whisper privately? Think again.”