A message viral on WhatsApp claims that the central government has made the messaging application unavailable for use everyday between 11:30 pm and 6 am. The message warns people to become “active” WhatsApp users by forwarding the news to their contacts or else their accounts will be deemed “invalid” within 48 hours. In case an account is “deleted”, a user would need to pay a monthly bill of Rs 499 to reuse the services, claims the message while further stating that once a person has become an “active” WhatsApp user (by chatting with at least 50 people), they will get access to a new version of the app which has a blue logo. In case a user’s WhatsApp does not turn blue, the application will be chargeable 0.01€ per message.

What’s app 📲 will b off 🚫
From 11.30pm 🌃 to 6:00 am 🌄 daily 😱
Declared 🗣️ by central govt. 🏛️
Message 🗨️from narendra…

Posted by Sneha Sutradhar on Wednesday, 3 July 2019

The complete message is given below:

What’s app will b off from 11.30pm to 6:00 am daily. Declared by central govt. Message from narendra modi (PM) we have had an over usage of user names on whatsapp Messenger. We are requesting all users to forward this message to their entire contact list. If you do not forward this message, we will take it as your account is invalid and it will be deleted within the next 48 hours. DO NOT ignore my words or whatsapp will no longer recognise your activation. If you wish to re-activate your account after it has been deleted, a charge of 499.00 will be added to your monthly bill. We are also aware of the issue involving the pictures updates not showing. We are working diligently at fixing this problem and it will be up and running as soon as possible. Thank you for your cooperation from the modi team. WhatsApp is going to cost you money soon. The only way that it will stay free is if you are a frequent user i.e. you have at least 50 people you are chatting with. To become a frequent user send this message to 10 people who receive it (2 ticks) and your WhatsApp logo will change color. Send this to 8 people to activate the new whatsapp. Saturday morning whatsapp will become chargeable. If you have at least 10 contacts send them this message. In this way we will see that you are an avid user and your logo will become blue (🔵) and will remain free. (As discussed in the paper today. Whatsapp will cost 0.01€ per message. Send this message to 10 people. When you do the light will turn blue otherwise whatsapp will activate billing. ITS TRUE …… U get blue TICKS

Fake message

In a conversation with Alt News, a spokesperson of WhatsApp termed the viral message a “known hoax”. Moreover, policy changes by WhatsApp are announced on its blog and no such warning was issued by the messaging application.

The same fake warning has been floating on the internet at least since 2015. Furthermore, similar hoaxes were circulated and debunked in different parts of the world in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Facebook and Facebook-owned social networking applications, WhatsApp and Instagram, were globally down for approximately 9-10 hours on July 3. The glitch may have sparked the rumours. Facebook, however, tweeted in the early hours of July 4 that the issue has been resolved.

Earlier in February this year, another false message was circulated in the name of WhatsApp, claiming that government surveillance and ISIS hackers were misusing WhatsApp profile pictures.

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About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.