WhatsApp about to combat spam, spoofing and phishing on its platform. WhatsApp had recently started testing the Suspicious Link Indicator feature in Android beta version 2.18.204. However, the testing was limited to a small number of beta users which was rolled out to all users on Android beta starting from version 2.18.221. Along with this, WhatsApp has set up a FAQ page on its website, detailing how the feature works.
How does this feature work?
Essentially, the feature works by identifying the characters in the links or if any unusual pattern or characters in the link that are camouflaged to make suspicious links seem real is noticed. For instance, if a shared link poses to be a bank website address, WhatsApp’s algorithm notices that the web address may not be genuine and then marks the link with a red label claiming it’s ‘suspicious’. When a user tries to open the suspicious link, WhatsApp alerts the user again that it may appear as a different website, because it contains an unusual character.
WhatsApp detects these links as suspicious locally, which means that it still does not read any of your data from WhatsApp servers to verify the link. The chats remain end-to-end encrypted.
While this new feature will act as a measure against spam, spoofing, phishing, it may not be as effective in combating fake news, which is a huge problem for WhatsApp now. There are several websites which do not have any special characters in the URL but are known for spreading conspiracy theories and unverified or altogether false stories as legitimate news.
- You need to update your WhatsApp beta for Android version to the 18.221 update to remotely receive the activation of the Suspicious Link Detection feature. If you have already updated but you don’t see the feature, please back up your chat history and reinstall WhatsApp if you don’t want to wait more.
Every time you reinstall WhatsApp, the most updated configurations from the server are downloaded, enabling the feature for you.
- The feature isn’t available for iOS and Windows Phone. It will be available in the next updates.
- Precedent Android beta versions might also get the feature, but it’s always recommended to use the latest version available, to quickly see the feature enabled.