WhatsApp virus message makes return: How to deal with it
A 2016 hoax message aimed at duping WhatsApp users into downloading a virus has made a return, but it does not make any more sense than it did before. The message, which has several variations, pertain to things called the 'Martinelli video' and 'WhatsApp Gold'. However, there's no need to go into panic mode as it is a relatively harmless, avoidable scam. Here's more.
The scam first started in 2016 when a message encouraging users to download a fake update called WhatsApp Gold started doing the rounds. "Hey Finally Secret WhatsApp golden version has been leaked, This version is used only by big celebrities. Now we can use it too," read the original message. WhatsApp, however, later confirmed that it was a hoax, and there was no such service.
Then, in 2017, another scam caused panic among WhatsApp users. A message about something called the 'Martinelli video' started being sent to WhatsApp users, warning them that if they opened the video, their phones would get infected by an indelible virus. Turned out, no such video existed. Now, it appears that both hoaxes are being referred to in the same message.
"If you know anyone using WhatsApp you might pass on this. An IT colleague has advised that a video comes out tomorrow from WhatsApp called martinelli do not open it, it hacks your phone and nothing will fix it. Spread the word...If you receive a message to update the WhatsApp to WhatsApp Gold, do not click!!!!!," reads one iteration of the current hoax.
Although the text of the hoax message varies, references to WhatsApp Gold and the Martinelli video seem to be a constant feature. Interestingly, while the Martinelli video is non-existent, the hoax message's warning about WhatsApp Gold is indeed legitimate. References to WhatsApp Gold usually come with requests for money and malicious links, and should therefore be avoided at all costs.
That said, the hoax is relatively harmless, unless of course you fall for it. For one, the Martinelli video does not exist, and cannot therefore download a virus on to your phone. As far as WhatsApp Gold is concerned, so long as you do not click on suspicious links attached with such messages, it does not pose any threat.
So, in case you receive such a message, the best thing to do is to ignore it and/or delete it. It's also best to refrain from forwarding such messages as you would be doing the WhatsApp community a favor by reducing circulation of fake, hoax messages. Further, as an advisory, don't open random videos on WhatsApp as you might end up seeing unwelcome content.