Whisper pushes back after scrutiny

The company behind the app Whisper that allows users to share anonymously said allegations Thursday against it were "lousy with falsehoods" after The Guardian reported the company was tracking the location of its users. 

The company behind the social media app that allows users to post short messages anonymously said it "has never nor will ever" collect or store any personal identifiable information of its users. 


Neetzan Zimmerman — the editor-in-chief who helps curate more newsworthy posts — pushed back on the report in dozens of tweets Thursday. He also posted a lengthy response the company gave to The Guardian before the story was published.

The Guardian reported that the company developed a tool that allows staff to place the location of users within 500 meters. The newspaper also reported that when users do not have the service enabled, Whisper in some cases uses data from IP addresses to find a general location of a user.  

The Guardian reported that Whisper — despite denying wrongdoing — changed its terms of service shortly after The Guardian brought up the allegations to note the company can locate the general area of the user even if the location tool is not on. 

Whisper noted that users must opt in to the location tool and that it does not collect or store "personally identifiable information,” such as names, phone numbers or email addresses. It did note that a user's IP address can give a general location. 

The newspaper also reported that all deleted messages are collected in a database and that the company monitors and tracks the movement of some more newsworthy users  — including individuals who say they work on Capitol Hill.

The company said it does not track users but sometimes reviews a user’s past activity when the user posts something that is newsworthy. 

Whisper is also working with the Department of Defense to share information on the amount of suicide mentions users on military bases make, The Guardian reported. 

The company said it is not sharing specific user data with the military or other organizations — only logging "how frequently suicide is mentioned among those living on U.S. military bases or compounds."

The Guardian made the revelations Thursday after exploring and deciding against a partnership with Whisper. Whisper said it had worked with the newspaper since February and staffers understood the guidelines fully at the time.