Last October, the UK Guardian ran a contentious story alleging that managers of Whisper, a mobile app that is designed to enable users to send messages anonymously, learned that the paper was investigating them and rewrote their terms of service and privacy policies, in possible violation of federal law. Today, the newspaper issued a “clarification” to its original story, writing that the company’s managers had in fact rewrote its terms of service two months earlier, before the newspaper began its investigation.
Guardian reporters Paul Lewis and Dominic Rushe claimed that Whisper was encouraging its users to share personal data with the company with the tacit expectation that Whisper would keep this information private, when in fact it was sharing some information with the United States Department of Defense. In addition, they claimed, Whisper managers rewrote their terms of service four days after they learned that the Guardian was investigating the company.
In fact, Guardian editors now acknowledge, Whisper’s amendment to its terms of service happened before the newspaper began researching the story.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian has pulled an opinion essay denouncing Whisper’s practices.
Here is the text of the clarification: