“Spam and Fake News Are A Big No” – WhatsApp

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If you’re late for the meeting, then you’re pretty anxious to get there on time. You open your WhatsApp app to check for new messages related to your work and you realize you do not have internet access.  So you switch on your mobile data and you’re immediately bombarded with lengthy messages. You’re a victim of WhatsApp spam.

What is WhatsApp spam?

Well, like usual spam, WhatsApp spam can come in many different flavors. There was even a spam message in circulation that WhatsApp would be shutting down their services unless this message was passed on to all your friends.

Well, WhatsApp seems to have hear our pleas. The company is reportedly working on a notification system that alerts a user if they receive a message that has been forwarded a number of times within a short period. Whatsapp would also alert a user if he/she is about to forward a message of that nature as well

WhatsApp Spam Fake News
Image Credits: wabetainfo

According to the screenshot above, the app doesn’t correctly identify the message as spam or fake news. Rather, it will notify you that the particular message has been shared frequently. Anyone who receives a spam message will see a text saying that the message has been “Forwarded Many Times” under the sender’s name. If you’re about to send a message, you’ll see a text that says “A message you are forwarding has been forwarded many times” on the message screen.

Combating WhatsApp Spam

Chainmail sent via WhatsApp is extremely annoying to deal with. Because WhatsApp uses your mobile data and you’re not charged per message as a regular text message, people are free to send messages of enormous length without having to worry about a charge. Even if you’re low on mobile data, you can simply connect to a wireless network and spam away with no charges added, ever.

WhatsApp Spam Fake News
An example of WhatsApp Spam (Image Credits: Pinimg)

Apart from the usual spam of “send this message to <x> number of people,” some WhatsApp spam chain messages can also be scams. The most popular of this being a service called WhatsApp Gold, which promises more features, but requires a payment to be made. This sort of thing is especially dangerous if you have no knowledge about smartphones and WhatsApp or the phone is being used by a child.

Another potential spam and scam is where you receive a document in the form of an attachment along with a joke and a password in the form of a text. While these are usually harmless, someone with the right tools and knowledge can always edit the attachment and inject malicious code into it that would steal your personal information the moment it is opened.

Fake News can cause real problems

You’ve probably heard of Fake news. If you haven’t’, well, Fake news is exactly that: Fake news. What happens is that someone would take an image or video clip or some form of media, and a few contradictory lines of text and then push that out to people saying that it’s news. Knowing the power of the internet (and not so smart people), these clips end up going viral. This is where things get ugly because these fake messages have real-world consequences like mass hysteria and even mob attacks.

WhatsApp Spam Fake News
Messages like this are bound to make anyone panic

Combating fake news and spam has been a trending topic for quite a while. Tech giants such as Facebook (who acquired WhatsApp) have been trying to tackle fake news by implementing stringent measures to combat fake news and spam as well. It’s not exactly a winning fight, but it’s a fight worth fighting for.

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