WhatsApp seems to make headlines all for the wrong reasons. The most recent is its CEO’s departure over Facebook’s privacy policies. Before that, co-founder Brian Acton called for a Facebook boycott over its privacy scandal. Though less sensational, this latest tidbit about WhatsApp could be even more destructive. A few messages are now being forwarded that, when tapped, could send not just the WhatsApp Android app crashing but possibly even the entire Android device as well.
Such message bombs aren’t exactly new and not even limited to Android. Even iMessage isn’t immune to bugs that could send the app crashing. What more one of the most controversial messaging apps in recent memory.
As with any message bomb, it involves sending and receiving a specially crafted message with hidden symbols in between spaces. Tapping on a portion of the text will basically make the app “expand” the hidden symbols, potentially overloading the app and even the OS.
There seems to be two variants of this WhatsApp message being forwarded. One involves an ominous black dot that comes with a warning on what will happen if you tap on it, which most curious cats will do anyway. Another is more nefarious, looks too innocent, and doesn’t come with a warning.
In both cases, the message includes special characters that don’t display visibly but are used to change text behavior. A superfluous amount of these invisible symbols causes WhatsApp to freeze up. Depending on your luck, it could also freeze Android itself or maybe even Whatsapp on iOS. WhatsApp has so far remained silent on this potentially disruptive bug.