WhatsApp users are being sent a hoax message warning them about a hacking threat that allegedly affects the chat app. It warns WhatsApp users about another message they may receive which will include the line ‘Argentina is doing it’ and describes the South American country’s response to COVID-19. A video will allegedly be included alongside this message, which when clicked on is said to hack a phone in 10 seconds.
Sounds pretty scary, doesn’t it? Well, it would be a lot more concerning if this was an actual, real threat.
As The Independent reported, there is no such video doing the rounds on WhatsApp and it’s unlikely such a hack is even possible.
This hoax message looks like it has been spreading since at least last summer, with Snopes previously debunking it.
The message warning WhatsApp users about this alleged hacking threat varies in content, but it typically has three themes – Argentina, the coronavirus and an alleged dangerous video.
One example of this hoax message says: “They are going to start circulating a video on WhatsApp that shows how the Covid19 curve is flattening in Argentina.
“The file is called ‘Argentina is doing it’, do not open it or see it, it hacks your phone in 10 seconds and it cannot be stopped in any way. Pass the information on to your family and friends.”
If you’ve been sent such a message it’s likely just because a friend or family member has been left concerned after receiving it themselves, and are trying to stop loved ones falling for a potential scam.
The way to do your own part to stop such a hoax from spreading is merely to ignore it and not send it on yourself to others.
WhatsApp on their website has guidance on how to deal with hoax messages, and tell-tale signs of how to spot one.
Things to look out for are…
• The sender claims to be affiliated with WhatsApp.
• The message content includes instructions to forward the message
• The message claims you can avoid punishment, like account suspension, if you forward the message
• The message content includes a reward or gift from WhatsApp or another person