If you’re one of the two billion(ish) people worldwide who rely on WhatsApp to keep in touch with friends and family, you need to be aware of a new “crash code” that is circulating online. As the name suggests, this code causes your chat app to crash indefinitely – with the only solution to reinstating your beloved conversations and group chats appearing to be deleting and reinstalling WhatsApp. Ouch!
The “crash code” was discovered by the clever folks at @WABetaInfo, who usually spend their time trawling through the latest beta code to find clues for as-yet unannounced features coming to the world’s most popular messenger. It explained: “A contact might send a message that contains many weird characters. If you read them entirely, they have no sense, but WhatsApp might interpret the message in a wrong way.
“Sometimes WhatsApp is also unable to render the message totally, because its structure is so weird: the combination of these characters create a situation where WhatsApp isn’t able to process the message, determining an infinite crash. Infinite crash means that, when you open WhatsApp, it is frozen and it crashes. If you try to open the app again, it still crashes.”
With several reports of the code already being shared widely in Brazil, WhatsApp users need to be on the lookout for messages with the app-dooming code.
The “crash code” is incredibly similar to one that impacted iMessage users earlier this year. Fortunately, unlike the code that caused iMessage to kick the bucket, there is a way to protect yourself against friends who think they’re “funny” by sending the code to your smartphone.
According to Ray Walsh, Digital Privacy Expert at ProPrivacy: “To help protect themselves all WhatsApp users should go into their settings to change ‘Who can add me to groups’ from ‘Everyone’ to ‘My Contacts’, as this will reduce the risk of being added to a group used to pass over the malevolent message.
“Anybody who finds that they have received a message containing a long string of random characters is advised to login to WhatsApp Web to block the sender, delete the message, and alter their group privacy settings to “My Contacts” or “My Contacts except..” This should allow anybody suffering from a locked up mobile WhatsApp app to reinstall it and clear up the issue.”