Beware of WhatsApp message that can freeze phones

PHOTO: Reuters

Mysterious messages going around on WhatsApp risk causing the app and Android device to freeze, according to reports.

According to Digital Trends, the type of message in question features hidden symbols between spacing. Upon receiving the message, tapping the top part of the text would cause the app to "expand" the symbols, causing the app to overload and even crash the phone's entire operating system.

Two variations of the message have been identified. One features a black dot with a warning that says WhatsApp would hang if the user taps on it. Meanwhile, the other message says "This is very interesting" with an emoji of a laughing-crying face.

WhatsApp has not issued a statement about the virus, although it is expected that the Facebook-owned messaging service would fix the issue within days.

According to reports, the message is capable of shutting down both Android and iOS versions of WhatsApp. However, only Android phones are known to have fallen victim to the bug completely.

Founded in 2009, WhatsApp now boasts more than 1.2 billion users worldwide. The messaging service, however, has experienced a dramatic last few weeks.

At the end of last month, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum announced that he would leave the company, with media reports indicating that the decision was influenced by a disagreement with Facebook over the privacy of user data.

Meanwhile, fellow co-founder Brian Acton, who left the company last year, is participating in the #BoycottFacebook movement, also over privacy issues.

However, WhatsApp continues to grow, with Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg recently announcing updates soon to be added to the messaging service, which is set to include a group video chat option.

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