It was a shit story on day one, and that was obvious to anyone who understands the web, technology, and mobile apps at even a basic level. Their claims that Whisper was storing location information for users who thought they were anonymized were childish, and their insistence that Whisper changed its Ts & Cs as a reaction to The Guardian was denied by Whisper from the start. Lots of people accepted The Guardian's reports at face value, without the slightest hint of skepticism, and some people particularly enjoyed seeing Neetzan called a liar and suspended from his job, although... Now the paper has had to issue long corrections, deleted one of its articles, and admitted that their claims about Whisper modifying its privacy policy out of fear were completely wrong. I don't know if these articles and the attendant publicity did so much damage that Whisper couldn't possibly recover — I've never used the app, I only thought the coverage by The Guardian and other websites and news outlets was funny because it was so uninformed and demonstrably naive. But, assuming they've stayed in business, it's a good day for Whisper and a bad day for The Guardian and others who wanted to believe these 5-month old articles proved anything.

They published this today:

Since we published our stories about Whisper between 16 October and 25 October 2014, the company has provided further information. We confirm that Whisper had drafted the changes to its terms of service and privacy policy before Whisper became aware that the Guardian was intending to write about it. We reported that IP addresses can only provide an approximate indication of a person's whereabouts, not usually more accurate than their country, state or city. We are happy to clarify that this data (which all internet companies receive) is a very rough and unreliable indicator of location. We are also happy to make clear that the public cannot ascertain the identity or location of a Whisper user unless the user publicly discloses this information, that the information Whisper shared with the US Department of Defense's Suicide Prevention Office did not include personal data, and that Whisper did not store data outside the United States. Whisper's terms for sharing information proactively with law enforcement authorities where there is a danger of death or serious injury is both lawful and industry standard. The Guardian did not report that any of Whisper's activities were unlawful. However, we are happy to clarify that there is no evidence for that suggestion. Whisper contests many other aspects of our reporting. The Guardian has clarified an article about Whisper's terms of service and removed an opinion piece entitled "Think you can Whisper privately? Think again".

The U.K. newspaper, which had alleged that Whisper violated users' privacy, added a paragraphs-long clarification at the top of a main article in the series. It also added a link to the clarification to other articles in the series, and removed a commentary from its website.

The Guardian's clarification blunted its earlier reports, which had raised broader questions about so-called anonymous messaging apps that promise users the ability to post without revealing their identity. The reports had also highlighted issues surrounding how publishers of such apps handle sensitive data, and the degree to which they compromise user privacy to obtain publicity.

The newspaper effectively retracted much of an article headlined, "Whisper app rewrites terms of service and privacy policy." The article had claimed that Whisper changed its terms of service and privacy policy when the app publisher learned of the Guardian's inquiry. The report implied potential legal issues. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has cited last-minute or secret changes to privacy policies or terms of service as evidence of wrongdoing.

The clarification said, "We confirm that Whisper had drafted the changes to its terms of service and privacy policy before Whisper became aware that the Guardian was intending to write about it."

The Guardian maintained that it didn't report that Whisper's activities were unlawful, and that the company still contests other aspects of its reporting. "The Guardian has clarified an article about Whisper's terms of service and removed an opinion article," a spokesperson said. "The substance of our original reporting remains unchanged."