A WhatsApp forward is being circulated which states that apparently ISIS is planning on stealing profile pictures in the instant messaging app in order to misuse these for terrorist activities. According to the message, WhatsApp's CEO has appealed to all users to remove their profile picture within the next 20-25 days, and users should forward the message to all, especially women.
The message is said to be issued by A.K. Mittal, apparently an IPS. A mobile number (9849436632) is also mentioned and he claims to be Commissioner of Delhi.
The Logical Indian received a request to verify the claims.
WhatsApp CEO has warned users to change their display picture as it could be misused by terrorists, hackers and ISIS.
The claim is false. The message is being circulated since 2016.
According to Truecaller, the number is listed as belonging to an Arshad Ali and has been reported as spam.
Below is a screenshot:
Further, neither the WhatsApp CEO nor the Delhi Police has issued any such official notice.
There is no-one named A.K. Mittal who has been Commissioner of Delhi since 1977. The list can be checked here. The current commissioner is S. N. Shrivastava.
Therefore, this is an old recurring fake forward.
WhatsApp On Hoax Message
According to WhatsApp, unsolicited messages from unauthorized third parties come in different forms such as spam, hoax and phishing messages. These messages are sent with the intention of deceiving the user and prompting them to act in a certain way.
WhatsApp lists the following characteristics of a hoax message:
(1) The message content includes instructions to forward the message. The viral forward does ask the user to forward it to other people.
(2) The message claims you can avoid punishment, like account suspension, if you forward the message. In this case, the message says that the user's display picture could be misused by terrorists, hackers and ISIS.
(3) The message content includes a reward or gift from WhatsApp or another person.
(4) The sender claims to be affiliated with WhatsApp. In this case, the message is attributed to WhatsApp CEO and the commissioner of Delhi, to make it more credible.
Below is a comparison of the viral forward which makes it clear as to why it is a hoax:
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