- WhatsApp spam is becoming a problem, but there are ways to recognize and prevent some of this spam.
- Follow the same rules for recognizing spam and fraudulent messages as you would for email.
- Here are the top ways to recognize WhatsApp spam and how to combat it.
If you’re a frequent WhatsApp user, you have probably noticed that the volume of spam messages has been on the rise. Like the epidemic of traditional spam phone calls and emails that started to plague mobile users a few years ago, WhatsApp spam is getting to be a serious distraction. If you know what to look for, though, you can minimize the impact of WhatsApp spam by blocking and avoiding some of the worst of it.
How to spot WhatsApp spam
As it happens, there are several different kinds of WhatsApp spam, each with a unique signature format and method for avoiding it.
The same rules for recognizing email and SMS spam also apply in WhatsApp. First and foremost: Unsolicited messages from someone you don’t know that includes any kind of link is probably spam. The message’s goal is to get you to tap the link and go to a website, send a payment, or download an app (which may or may not be
). Don’t tap links in WhatsApp messages unless you know exactly what that link is going to do or is from someone you trust.
You’ve probably seen any number of email messages that masquerade as login requests, password recovery emails, notes from your bank, or other security-themed messages. If you know the signs, it’s generally pretty easy to recognize fraudulent login emails when you see them. On WhatsApp, it’s even easier — just assume 100% of unsolicited messages are fraud and spam. Genuine websites like online stores and banks do not use WhatsApp to request logins, validate accounts, send password recovery or two-factor authentication emails. If you get anything like that, it’s spam.
Frequently forwarded messages
One of the laziest ways for spammers to flood your inbox with spam is by forwarding messages to many people, either all at once or in batches. Either way, WhatsApp is pretty good at detecting this, and warns you. When you open a conversation, forwarded messages show an arrow with the Forwarded at the top of the message; if it has been forwarded more than five times, it instead says Forwarded many times. If you see that, you can be virtually guaranteed it’s some kind of unwanted spam and is safely ignored.
How to stop WhatsApp spam
Now that you know what some of the most common kinds of WhatsApp spam look like, how can you deal with and stop it? Unfortunately, stopping spam is an uphill battle and it’s simply not possible to eliminate it entirely. There will always be a higher volume of spammers targeting your inbox than you personally have the time or energy to combat. Even so, you can make a sizable dent in the amount of spam you receive with these tactics.
Opt out of groups
Group spam is common because it’s convenient and time-effective for spammers to add a lot of people to a group and then spam them all at once. Thankfully, it’s easy to prevent strangers from adding you to groups in the first place.
In WhatsApp, tap Settings and then tap Account. Tap Privacy, then Groups. By default, anyone can add you to a group, but you can switch it to My Contacts or My Contacts Except and specify who in your contacts can’t add you to a group.
If you get messages from someone and they are clearly spammy in nature, you can report that user directly to WhatsApp. Will this have an effect on their account or the volume of spam you receive? It’s hard to say — but it only takes a moment to report a spammer, so it’s worth doing.
Open the conversation with the spammer and then tap on their name at the top of the screen. On the Contact info page, scroll down and tap Report Business or Report [phone number], depending upon the kind of user who spammed you.
Block a spammer
Reporting the contact who sent you spam might be good for the WhatsApp community at large, but there’s a way to have a more immediate effect on your own WhatsApp inbox — you can block the user, which means they will no longer be able to send you messages or calls.