Circulating on social media and of course in WhatsApp, is a viral warning about yet another issue with WhatsApp privacy settings. Following on from the furore around the new WhatsApp privacy update which led me to delete the app completely, fresh concerns have surfaced. However, this new concern actually relates to a change the messaging platform made back in 2019. Still, you should change this setting. Here’s what you need to know.
What Setting Has Changed In WhatsApp?
Back in 2019, WhatsApp changed a privacy setting which allowed people not in you contact list to add you to groups. In a blog post, WhatsApp stated that these changes were to allow “family, friends, co-workers, classmates” connect easier after users “asked for more control over their experience”. Personally, I don’t buy that for a second but that’s irrelevant.
The change effectively means you could be added to groups where you know no-one by people you don’t know.
Why Is This Dangerous?
The problem with this relates to things like the Facebook leak currently being investigated by the DPC. When your phone number is publicly available, anyone can add you to groups because of this setting.
In the UK, both the Upton and Cheshire Police took to social media to highlight this change and the dangers, the latter saying “WhatsApp has changed its group settings to include ‘everyone’ by default so people you don’t know can add you to a group without your knowing. These people may include scam messages, loan sharks, etc”.
We need to be careful of scaremongering here. This isn’t a new feature to take advantage of your data. Instead, it’s a change that’s been noticed and looked at through the new lens of WhatsApp coming under fresh scrutiny.
For the sake of your privacy, regardless of when this change happened, you should change your privacy settings and here’s how.
How To Update Your WhatsApp Group Privacy SettingsGo to WhatsApp
- Go into Settings
- Go to Account
- Go to Privacy
- Go to Groups
- Change from (Everyone) to (My Contacts)
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