Safer Internet Day 2023: Best tips to safely use WhatsApp
Safer Internet Day is observed on February 7 and it is the 20th edition of the campaign this year. Organized by InSafe, each year Safer Internet Day aims to raise awareness of emerging online issues and current concerns, from cyberbullying to social networking to digital identity. This is how you can spot scams and safely message on WhatsApp.
When and why did this initiative start?
What started as an initiative of the EU SafeBorders project in 2004, Safer Internet Day was taken up by the Insafe network as one of its earliest actions in 2005. Today, it has become a landmark event in the online safety calendar. It has grown beyond its traditional geographic zone and is now celebrated in approximately 180 countries and territories worldwide.
Concept of Safer Internet Day Committees was introduced in 2009
Insafe is a European network of Safer Internet Centres (SICs). In order to create a safer space on the internet, every national SIC implements awareness and educational campaigns and runs a helpline. The concept of Safer Internet Day Committees was introduced in 2009, to strengthen the bonds with countries outside the network and to promote the campaign across the world.
Users should be wary of the ongoing scams
Given the rampant use of mobile phones, there are several ways one can fall for fraud. WhatsApp, because of its popularity, is one of the major platforms affected by scams. While the app's end-to-end encryption and other safety features make it relatively secure and private, users are still at risk of fraud. Here are some red flags you need to look out for.
Avoid clicking on malicious links on WhatsApp
In certain WhatsApp spams, cybercriminals often send enticing messages announcing prizes, giveaways, and discounts. If you did not sign up for them, then they are most likely spam messages. Avoid disclosing your private details—phone numbers, addresses, credit/debit card numbers, and bank account information. Also, refrain from clicking any malicious links you receive. Your phone could get infected and you could lose information.
Fraudulent messages often contain grammatical and spelling errors
If you receive messages or calls asking you to take immediate action, then the chances are that it is fraudulent communication. Such texts often include threats claiming your bank accounts could get blocked among other warnings. Fraudulent messages often contain obvious spelling and grammatical errors and are sent from unknown numbers. Communications from legitimate organizations are less likely to contain such errors.
How to safely message using WhatsApp?
On WhatsApp, you can control who can see personal details such as profile picture, status, last seen, and profile information. You can also control who can see when you are online. For added security, there is a two-step verification feature that generates a six-digit passcode when you are resetting or verifying your account. This comes in handy in case your SIM card is misplaced.
There are independent fact-checking organizations on WhatsApp
To curb the spread of false news, there are several independent fact-checking organizations on WhatsApp. The portals are available in English and 11 Indian languages. You can verify potentially misleading content such as photos, videos, and even voice recordings. Further, there are group forwarding limits on the app. Messages with the "forwarded" label can only be sent to one group at a time.
How to report/block an account?
If you feel scammed or targeted by a particular fraudster, you can report and block that number. You can either block the unknown sender from within the chat or you can head to settings and add the number to your blocked list.