Social Media Management – WhatsApp
WhatsApp is a free messaging service for sending text messages and images to another user who has the app installed.
It is generally less dangerous than many other platforms as it only allows people to connect directly to you if they have your telephone number. This reduces the risk of children communicating with inappropriate individuals.
In 2018 the minimum age to use WhatsApp was raised from 13 to 16. Despite this, an OSA survey of KS3 pupils found that 82% used the application.
WhatsApp: Areas of concern
‘Groups’ are areas within WhatsApp where multiple users can share messages. The person who sets up the group is classed as the ‘admin’ and has the ability to add and remove other people from the group.
When a child enters a group chat in WhatsApp, they will not only connect to their friends in that group, but with anybody else that the admin in that group has invited. It is these secondary links that can pose a threat to children as they could potentially be anybody.
Children should be encouraged to think carefully about the groups in which they are members. If the content of a group is inappropriate or some of the members are unknown to them, they should consider leaving it. To do so, click on the group name, click the bar at the top with the group name, and select ‘Exit Group’.
Group admins repeatedly adding and removing people from groups is a common form of bullying among younger children. Large and active groups can also be distracting to children, particularly when messages are posted into the night.
In August 2022, Meta (formerly Facebook) announced a set of new features they claim will improve privacy.
A key change is that users will now be able to control which other users can see when they are online. Currently, users know when their contacts are online and this can great pressure to reply instantly to messages received.
Users can now exit groups without everybody within the group being informed, though the group admin will be.
The final feature is a strange one. Snapchat-style ‘View Once’ messages disappear once they have been read. The update will prevent users from taking screenshots to protect the privacy of the user. However, this would also protect people using this feature to send abusive communications.
WhatsApp users can only receive messages from people if they have that person’s telephone number in their contact list- This statement is false. As long as somebody has your telephone number they can send you a message. You can also receive messages from non-contacts through group chats.