Facebook wants to analyze WhatsApp messages without violating encryption

One of the characteristics that WhatsApp highlights among its security tools is the end-to-end encryption of your messages as a guarantee of privacy.

According to information released recently, Facebook is investigating a way to analyze, for advertising purposes, the content of the encrypted data of these chats, but without having to decrypt them.

Track messages without reading them, what WhatsApp is looking for to personalize ads

End-to-end encryption is present in WhatsApp messages since 2016. In short, this technology prevents messages from being intercepted by third parties, even if the servers of this platform are accessed.

Currently, Facebook is looking for artificial intelligence researchers to develop a study on this topic, as reported The Information.

Although it has been postponed on more than one occasion, Facebook still has plans to add advertising on WhatsApp. Under this point, ad personalization is usually based on data explicitly extracted from each user’s browsing information. With this research, Facebook could find its way to start filtering and profiling ads based on encrypted WhatsApp messages. Facebook could also use the findings to encrypt user data without affecting its ad targeting approaches.

According to what is stated in EngadgetThis technique is called “homomorphic encryption” and is largely based on mathematical formulas. Other large companies in the medium, such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google, are also working on addressing this technique. The objective of homomorphic encryption is to allow companies to read and analyze data, while it remains encrypted, protecting the privacy of its owners.

Facebook told The Information that it is “Too early for us to consider homomorphic encryption for WhatsApp at this time”. The company could reap significant benefits from employing this technology. Considering that Facebook’s business model has advertising campaigns as one of its main revenue pillars, this technique could be used to target an effective audience segmentation aligned with its commercial purposes. In addition, this initiative could align with the nascent legal regulations and the growing citizen interest around the management with which the company manages the personal information of its users.

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This initiative responds to a project deployed at an early stage. According to the same report that accounts for this movement, Facebook could be years away from taking advantage of homomorphic encryption. When the time comes, whether by this or another company, an important precedent would be set around the evolution of online advertising systems.