Latest WhatsApp fake message claims all calls will be recorded: How to stay safe from such misinformation

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WhatsApp is one of the most popular platforms in India with over 450 million users, but sometimes the medium gets misused for spreading misinformation. The latest viral message on WhatsApp is one claiming all calls on the platform will be recorded, all other social media platforms will be monitored. The message–which has been written in Hindi– claims that there will be total monitoring of calls, messages and social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and others. It also claims that users should alert others who are unaware of these ‘upcoming changes.’

It warns users against sending any kind of political or religious posts or videos on social media. It claims that if you do so, the police will issue a notification and this will be deemed a cybercrime. It encourages users to share this message with other groups. It also claims that if the government is going to act against anyone, the message will have three red ticks next to it.

Now before you start panicking or forwarding this message to others, keep in mind that all of the claims made in this are entirely fake. 

The claims of ‘three red ticks’ next to a message to indicate it is being monitored has been made before and are totally false. WhatsApp only shows two blue ticks next to a message after it has been read by the recipient. If you get this message, you will also notice it has the ‘Forwarded many times’ label next to it. There’s a little magnifying glass symbol which will appear next to this and other such viral messages. When you tap on it, WhatsApp will ask if you would like to search this message on the Web? Tap on it and you will see plenty of links debunking this particular message.

If you are worried about how to keep a track of false messages on WhatsApp, here are some basic safety tips to keep in mind. Also encourage others in the family to take note of these tips, especially those who might not be as tech-savvy.

Don’t forward a message just because it says so: Many times you might get a message such as this latest one, which claims to be issued for the public good. Don’t forward such messages without doing a fact check. Further, if a message has a ‘Forwarded Many times’ label, consider carefully before sharing it further on any group or private chat.

WhatsApp has a limit of forwarding messages to just five chats at once. Messages marked with double arrows and labelled as “Forwarded many times” indicate they did not originate from close contact, according to the company. They can only be forwarded to one other chat at a time.

Fact-check information: In India, WhatsApp has 10 independent fact-checking organisations to help users to identify, review, verify the information. The purpose of these fact-checking organisations is to prevent the spread of misinformation on the platform. You can contact any of these on WhatsApp itself and ask about veracity of a message. Check out the numbers below:

AFP +91 95999 73984
Boom +91 77009-06111 / +91 77009-06588
Fact Crescendo +91 90490 53770
Factly ​​+91 92470 52470
India Today +91 7370-007000
Newschecker +91 99994 99044
Newsmobile +91 11 7127 9799
Quint Webqoof +91 96436 51818
The Healthy Indian Project +91 85078 85079
Vishvas News +91 92052 70923 / +91 95992 99372

Block and report unwanted contacts: You can always block unknown contacts who are sending unverified messages. You can also report the particular account to WhatsApp when blocking them. WhatsApp also uses advanced spam detection technology to tackle accounts engaging in automated and bulk messaging, but many accounts manage to escape its scrutiny.

Users should block senders who are forwarding spam messages and report their accounts as well. The company also provides the option for people to keep reported messages on their phones if they want to share them with fact-checkers.

Don’t click on links claiming rewards and offers: Another common scam on WhatsApp are messages offering free rewards often using names of big brands like Amazon or Flipkart or Starbucks. The messages come with a link and will claim it is the company’s anniversary or something and that the company is offering a free reward. Users must never click on such links, even out of curiosity. These messages often include links to a website or request access to personal information with disguised malware, according to WhatsApp. Simply long-press a particular message to either ‘report’ or ‘block a user’.

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