Beware of a viral hoax voice message on WhatsApp

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Social media users are sharing a viral hoax voice message on WhatsApp , The message purporting to be from a “Valron Poliani director of WhatsApp’ , says that WhatsApp has been sold to Zuckerberg for USD 19 Billion ( WhatsApp was actually sold to Facebook in February 19, 2014 ). The message goes to say that users are to send it to 20 other contacts and that their whatsapp will change to a new logo with Facebook ‘f’ within 24 hrs of doing so.

It threatens that a user account will be deleted from Servers apparently if they do not follow the Instructions and that users will be asked to pay for Whatsapp as the servers are congested.

It keeps on saying that If you want to be safe, you need to share this message with all your contacts. We are aware that since yesterday downloading videos and pictures has been stopped. The number of WhatsApp users has increased which is not good for the country. If you do not share this message, your WhatsApp will become invalid. In the next 48 hours, your WhatsApp account will be shut. Do not ignore the message. Once your WhatsApp account is shut, you’ll have to pay for it very every month which will be deducted from your bank account. You need to send this message to 50 people. If even 10 people receive the message, your WhatsApp logo will turn into a blue. To keep it active, you need to send this message to 8 people. If you do not share, your WhatsApp will be closed from Saturday (sic),” the message threatens.

Beware of viral hoax voice message on WhatsApp

Fact check on the viral hoax voice message on WhatsApp

The claim is a hoax.

We firstly searched for any such official statement by WhatsApp. However, we found none.

The team then performed a keyword search using ‘WhatsApp being charged’, which led us to a report by The Journal published on April 22, 2020. The Journal had debunked WhatsApp forward that claimed the app will no longer be free to use.

According to the report, a spokesperson of the messaging app said, “WhatsApp is a free service which does not currently or plan to charge users to send messages or make audio or video calls. We encourage all users to check facts before sharing messages that have been forwarded to them.”

“Facebook-owned WhatsApp has not officially said anything about the service being charged or banned. Neither the central government nor Google has been circulating messages that indicate this. This is not the first time that an outage has become an opportunity for some to circulate fake messages with misinformation,” The Indian Express reported.

“There are several variants of the messages. While one claims that WhatsApp is going to be banned due to government policy, another one claims that the outage was due to “some inconvenience in our satellite connection” and that downloading of photos, videos, and audio clips, etc have been disabled in WhatsApp for one week. Interestingly the message has been signed by Google, which has nothing to do with WhatsApp.

It is therefore evident that the viral voice message is a hoax. WhatsApp has neither been banned nor will be charging for its services. The viral message has been making rounds since 2019. With the latest version appearing to attempt to lure people to a certain link that they mention towards the end of the voice note.

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