WhatsApp users should be wary of new ‘crash code’ messages being circulated that can cause the app to fail and need to be re-installed.
The messages will send the application into an infinite loop and force the user – whether on iOS or Android – to delete and reinstall it. In some cases, this can result in an entire chat history being lost.
These coded messages – also known as text bombs – contain a seemingly random string of characters that will cause rendering problems and force the app to crash.
The messages were picked up on by WABetaInfo – a tech blog dedicated to all things regarding WhatsApp.
‘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,’ the site reported.
‘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.’
If you use WhatsApp (and with over two billion users worldwide, there’s a high chance you do) there are ways to protect your account.
For starters, open up the app and go into the Settings menu. From there, find the option for Privacy and change the Groups setting so that only your contacts can add you to a group. This will limit your exposure somewhat to the wilds of the internet.
If you’re unfortunate enough to have received the crash code message, you may be able to save your app by using the desktop version of WhatsApp.
If you can, log in and delete the message sent to your account and then block the number that sent it. Be warned that you need to scan a QR code to access WhatsApp Web – which you’ll need access to the app for, so unless you’re already logged in on desktop, this approach won’t be available.
‘WhatsApp has released and already begun rolling out a patch that addresses this in its latest iOS software update,’ a spokesperson from Facebook told TechRadar.
‘As with any tech product, we strongly encourage users to keep their WhatsApp app and mobile operating system up to date and download updates whenever they’re available.’
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