Everything You Wanted to Know About WhatsApp
WhatsApp is a popular messaging platform that is owned by Facebook and now Meta. Launched in January 2009, it has more than one billion subscribers and a daily message exchange of more than 70 billion messages. Thus, it should come as no surprise that it still has some loopholes that are being exploited by scammers.
As the messaging app became more popular, they added security to make it more secure. Unfortunately, it is the lack of general awareness among users that there are WhatsApp scammers who exploit the platform and its people.
If you are unaware of how scams are perpetrated by scammers, then this article is for you. You should also be aware that these features and the difficulties they present are shared by both iOS and Android smartphones.
As the application evolved over time, WhatsApp incorporated a feature that allows you to access any links you get straight in your browser by clicking on the link specified in the WhatsApp message.
You can open up a website, download a desktop app, scan the app with WhatsApp, and also open up WhatsApp on your desktop.
However, such features have attracted many Whatsapp scam. They make use of the fact that many are unaware of how the technology works. As a result, an innocent link could provide a backdoor to your private data. Scammers could use it to steal your identity, your financial information, or both.
A special feature was added a few years ago where you can encrypt your message and send it to your intended recipient. Once your recipient receives the message, it can be decrypted and the message can be read. As a default setting, this feature is disabled. You need to activate it by going into the settings. If law enforcement agencies obtain a warrant, they can decrypt these messages.
You can store a copy of your messages in WhatsApp for a predetermined amount of time; the time limit can be daily, weekly, or monthly. These messages are stored on cloud servers: iCloud for iOS and Google Cloud for Android smartphones. When the message backup process initiates, these encrypted messages get decrypted and stored on the cloud servers.
Thus, scammers can gain access to your messages if they happen to clone your SIM card and pull the data from the cloud.
You do not have much choice; either refrain from using the backup option or refrain from using the message encryption facility.
Nonetheless, if your smartphone gets stolen, the thief cannot gain access to your messages since the message encryption can only be accessed through a six-digit PIN, fingerprint, or facial recognition.
Facebook data sharing
Although Meta (formerly known as Facebook) has been heavily criticized in recent years for the stand it takes when it comes to users’ private data, the European Union has advised both Meta and WhatsApp to remain independent so that users’ private data cannot be misused. However, Meta promised to comply but repeatedly reversed their position.
In 2021, Meta announced a new data-sharing policy under which users’ data from WhatsApp and social media platforms will be transferable.
Hoaxes and fake news
In recent years, social media has faced a lot of criticism regarding the spread of fake news and misinformation. Meta, in particular, has been accused of influencing voter sentiments during the 2020 US presidential election campaign. It is no surprise that WhatsApp was also involved in it.
The spread of the two most prominent cases originated in India and Brazil. In 2017 and 2018, a message originated in India, where fake news regarding the abduction of a child spread like a wildfire, resulting in the deaths of innocent victims who were lynched by the mob.
In Brazil, the 2018 elections were run on false information. Brazilian business people set up fake companies targeting candidates who stood for the election. The misinformation was based on the knowledge that WhatsApp was used as the main source of information for both business and personal communication.
In both cases, atrocities could have been averted had WhatsApp taken a strong stand instead of doing nothing.
This became apparent when a global lockdown was imposed after the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic during its initial stages. However, WhatsApp did intervene, eventually limiting the person forwarding a single message to five groups rather than the previous limit of 250.
When WhatsApp was launched, it offered limited options for broadcasting what the user was doing in the form of short text. However, all this changed in recent years, when one could broadcast with customized text, and now you can also add small stories like Instagram reels.
Although Instagram offers to keep your account private, limiting access to those who are in your group, this feature is present in WhatsApp too, limiting your reach depending upon the setting you choose.
Instagram is a platform that is meant to be used by the general public, though you can choose to make your profile private. Comparatively, WhatsApp is a more private platform for connecting with loved ones.Hence, it stands to reason that sharing a status on WhatsApp must also be secret.
To access this setting, go to Settings > Account > Privacy > Status.
This will enable you to view three options.
- My contacts
- My contacts except
- only reveal to
Such features, however, remain a mystery, as there is no guarantee that the person you blocked will be able to view your broadcast, as one can still download your images, screenshots, screen recordings, and much more.
Is it safe to use WhatsApp?
It is difficult to respond. After all, it is one of the most perplexing platforms because, on the one hand, it offers some resilient features that can make you feel secure while, on the other hand, compromising your private messages that are supposed to be encrypted but become decrypted while taking a backup of your messages as you initiate the backup or change your smartphone.
Then the ownership is under Meta, which has a dubious history, which complicates the matter even further.