With over 200 million monthly active users, WhatsApp is the most popular instant messaging app in India. Over the years, WhatsApp has improved the platform with new features such as video calling and stickers. Of late, WhatsApp has increased focus on bettering its security and privacy features, especially after it was widely criticised over the spread of fake news and misinformation.
From the forwarded label, fact-check to suspicious link detection, WhatsApp has added multiple new features in last one year or so. WhatsApp recently revealed it bans over 2 million accounts per month for abusing the platform. While WhatsApp is fixing the spam and fake news problem, here are some of the top privacy and security features that every WhatsApp user needs to know.
Two-step verification is possibly the easiest way to add another layer of security to your account. Google and Facebook also stress on having two-step verification. For WhatsApp, it helps you verify your account through a six-digit PIN that you create using the feature.
To enable two-step verification, WhatsApp users need to visit Settings > Account > Two-step verification > Enable. You also have the option to enter your email address which can be used in the case you forget the six-digit PIN.
Protecting WhatsApp profile photos
WhatsApp doesn’t come with Facebook’s screen-guard feature that notifies users when someone copies or takes a screenshot of their profile photos. What WhatsApp users can do for now is tweaking the Settings to ensure their profile photo is only visible to their contacts. You can also set the profile photos’ visibility to no one. Here’s how to do it: Go to Settings > Account > Privacy > Profile Photos > Choose between “Everyone”, “My Contacts” and “Nobody.”
eporting, blocking and more
If you’re receiving spams from an unknown number, here’s what you need to do. Open the chat, tap on the sender name (individual or group) to open their profile. Scroll to the bottom and tap “Report Contact” or “Report group.” You can also block the number. Users can also exit the group that is sending spam.
When enabled, the feature alerts users when a contact’s security code has changed. “Security codes are just visible versions of the special key shared between you - and don’t worry, it’s not the actual key itself, that’s always kept secret. At times, the security codes used in end-to-end encryption might change. This is likely because you or your contact reinstalled WhatsApp or changed phones,” explains WhatsApp on its website.
To activate this feature, launch WhatsApp on your phone. Go to Settings > tap on Account > Security > toggle the button to “Show Security Notifications.”
Note that WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption regardless of this setting.
Contact Grievance Officer for India
WhatsApp last year appointed its first-ever grievance officer for India. The instant messaging company now allows users to report complaints or concern directly to the officer. To contact the office, you need to send an email with your report or complaint and sign in with an electronic signature. For concerns regarding your account, you will have to provide your full phone number in international format (+91 for India). You can also write to the officer via post.
Bonus: Request Account info
WhatsApp users can also download and export all your account data. The messaging app provides your full data in about three days after the date of request made. Tap on Settings > Account > Request account info. You will receive a notification when the account information is available for download. Open Settings > Account > Request account info > Download report. A ZIP file will be downloaded on your devices.