How WhatsApp can help locate missing backpacker in Australia
Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp is working with Australian authorities to help locate a missing Belgian backpacker who disappeared in May, officials said on Tuesday. 18-year-old Theo Hayez had disappeared while returning from a nightclub to his hostel in Byron Bay on the night of May 31.
If you are one those who believe that technology has done more harm than good to mankind, this might make you think otherwise. Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp is working with Australian authorities to help locate a missing Belgian backpacker who disappeared in May, officials said on Tuesday. 18-year-old Theo Hayez had disappeared while returning from a nightclub to his hostel in Byron Bay on the night of May 31. The authorities have understood that Hayez had sent WhatsApp messages in the hours before he went missing.
Kai Riemer, professor of Information Technology and Organisation at the University of Sydney, told Xinhua news agency on Tuesday that WhatsApp would not have access to message content but would likely have access to metadata. "WhatsApp is an encrypted service, so would not have access to actual message content, but they should have access to content about who communicates with whom, maybe their location if that is shared by their device and if the device was turned on at the time," Riemer said.
The teen's family also hopes that the instant messaging platform can be of help to them. His father Laurent Hayez travelled to Australia to assist in the search and has urged WhatsApp to do whatever they can to help locate him. "We understand the politics about confidentiality and respect that - however, this is a question of providing assistance to a person in grave danger," the father told reporters.
WhatsApp has said they are assisting police with their enquiries. "Our hearts go out to Theo Hayez and his family," it said in a statement. "We understand the important work being carried out by law enforcement and are assisting them in accordance with applicable law and our terms of service," the app added.
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