As for the accusation that it shares certain Whisper posts with the US Department of Defense, Heyward said a lot of anonymous posts come from military personnel who exhibit post-traumatic stress disorder. The company then collected that data -- which are all publicly posted anyway -- and compiled them in a study that the company shared with the office of Veteran Affairs. "To take that and misconstrue that as sharing user data for surveillance... it's just misleading," said Heyward. Another case in which Whisper does share user posts is any time a minor is at risk. "We'll always proactively alert child protective services," said Heyward. Apparently Whisper does this about 20 times per week. It also does this if someone posts a suicidal note or is a danger to themselves and others.
As for whether Whisper would take legal action against the Guardian, Heyward wouldn't give a concrete answer, but he did hint that it was a strong possibility. "The way the Guardian mischaracterized and misled their readers was hugely responsible," he said. "We have to focus on doing right for our users and our company."