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WhatsApp group privacy setting in existence since 2019, not new as claimed in recent message

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Claim: A viral WhatsApp message claims new WhatsApp setting now allows anyone to add you to a group

While it is true this WhatsApp feature used to control who can add another person to a WhatsApp group exists, it is not new as the feature has been in existence since 2019.

Full Text

WhatsApp group is a platform to which one can invite more than one person (family members, friends, colleagues etc) to chat with. While anyone can create a WhatsApp group, there is a user limit of 256 participants. 

When created, you can add participants in the group or send an invitation link to individuals you want to join the group.

Recently, a viral WhatsApp message claims a new WhatsApp setting allows anyone including terrorist groups to add you to their group without you knowing.

This message goes ahead to direct users on how they can change this setting to secure their account.

“WHATSAPP HAS CHANGED THE GROUP SETTING TO INCLUDE  “EVERYONE”. So with EVERYONE, people you don’t know, including Boko Haram, ISWAP, Al Qaeda, can add you to their group without you knowing.”

Excerpt of Viral WhatsApp message.

Screenshot of Viral WhatsApp message

Verification

Dubawa visited the WhatsApp blog and found a similar direction on how to change the group privacy setting

Screenshot of WhatsApp guide to change group privacy settings

However, WhatsApp noted these changes to group privacy settings can’t be made on WhatsApp Web or Desktop, but once done on your phone,  it will be synced with WhatsApp Web and Desktop.

A keyword search also led to reports as far back as 2019 guiding users how to work around this group setting.

A report by Gadgets 360 published in 2019 gave steps for changing this setting on Android phones and iPhones.

Screenshot of Gadget 360 report

Another report by Gadgets Now published in 2020 gave 6 steps to stop people from adding others to WhatsApp groups.

Screenshot of Gadgets Now report

Dubawa’s Search also found that this feature is not new as it was launched in April 2019 and updated in November 2019 by WhatsApp.

Before this update, the choice of who can add another person to a WhatsApp group was between “Everyone” (known and unknown persons can add you) and “Nobody” (no one can add you to any group).

This new update however gives you three options: “Everyone”, ” My Contacts” (that is only those you have their numbers saved can add you to groups) and “My Contacts Except” (this gives you the liberty to choose who among your contact should not be allowed to add you to a group). 

Screenshot of WhatsApp’s blog announcement of this feature

Conclusion

While it is true this WhatsApp feature to control who can add you to a WhatsApp group exists, it is not new as it has been in existence since 2019. This makes the claim in the viral Whatsapp message misleading.

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