WhatsApp safety tips, tricks: How to block spam, avoiding phishing links and more

WhatsApp is India's favourite app, and given the 200 million users in the country, this should not come as a surprise to anyone. WhatsApp is used by families, communities, office groups, and here's how you can fight spam, fake messages on the app.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 11, 2017 5:11 pm
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WhatsApp is India’s favourite app, and given that it has 200 million users in the country, this should not come as a surprise to anyone. WhatsApp is used by families, communities, office groups, and pretty much everyone in India to keep in touch. While WhatsApp might have become the favourite mode of communication for many, it has also become the source of major problem. Fake news, spam messages, spam links get shared quite easily on WhatsApp.

Now WhatsApp itself has put together an infographic explaining how to stay safe on the app. Here’s a quick look at some points to keep in mind with WhatsApp messages.

How to check for fake, spot spam WhatsApp Messages

WhatsApp has listed out some things to keep in mind when it comes to spam, fake messages on the network. WhatsApp says users should ignore or block messages, which ask them to tap on an unknown link, asks for personal information like credit card details or bank account number or birth date, email password, etc.

Anything that asks a user to click on a link in order to ‘activate’ a new feature should be blocked, and the user should not click on such links either. Also messages which ask to be forwarded should be ignored. Any message claiming that WhatsApp will be paid, and a user has to pay in order to continue using the service should be blocked as well. Users should note WhatsApp is now totally free, and will remain this way.

WhatsApp Messages, which offer special features like multiple video calling or a ‘gold version’ of WhatsApp have gone viral in the past in India. During demonetisation time, WhatsApp messages also convinced many the Rs 2000 note came with GPS security chip, which was not true. These are just a few examples of how fake news tends to spread on the service.

Remember, when a new feature is launched on WhatsApp, it is done via an update on the App Store or Google Play Store. WhatsApp will never forward this information via messages to users. So the next time you get an invite for a ‘gold’ version of WhatsApp, go ahead and block that user.

How to deal with fake, suspicious and spam messages on WhatsApp

Any WhatsApp Message that says you need to forward it to 100 other people, or else you’ll face bad luck for the rest of your current life, and seven other lives, needs to be ignored. Don’t act on the instructions in the message, even it comes from someone you trust. Even if your friends and family are forwarding such messages, there’s no need to continue the mindless cycle of forwarding.

Also, if a stranger is sending these spam messages go ahead and block them. If this is a family member or relative, ask them to do some research before forwarding every single message in their WhatsApp inbox. If the message asks for personal information like address or credit card information in exchange for something, then you should delete it and block the user. Don’t go around forwarding this message to everyone on your list.

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How to report spam messages to WhatsApp

Yes, spam on WhatsApp is a real thing. Of course, most of it has been created by our friends and family, who insist on wishing ‘Good Morning’ or sharing every single inspiration quote that can be churned out by the internet. While reporting family for ‘Good Morning’ messages is a bit harsh, if someone is sending abusive or spam messages, you can report them to WhatsApp.

In Android, just to go Menu Button > Settings > About and Help > Contact Us. In iPhone, go to Settings > About and Help > Contact Us. In the Windows Phone version of WhatsApp, go to More > Settings > About > Support. On Desktop version of WhatsApp, go to Settings > Help > Contact Us.

In the Contact Us section, you can always write a detailed message to WhatsApp explaining the problem. There’s also the option of sharing screenshots from any abusive chat. Remember to keep these safely on your smartphone, along with a backup.  These can also be shared with law enforcement agencies, if you feel your safety is at risk.

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