A message bomb is circulating on WhatsApp that can cause the Android app or even an entire Android device to crash, according to reports. The bug occurs when a specific malicious message is sent to a device.
“As with any message bomb, it involves sending and receiving a specially crafted message with hidden symbols in between spaces. Tapping on a portion of the text will basically make the app 'expand' the hidden symbols, potentially overloading the app and even the OS," SlashGear explains.
So far, at least two variations of the message bomb have been identified. In one version, a black dot warns recipients of what will happen if they tap on it. Another message says, “This is very interesting” with an emoji of a laughing face.
Although seemingly brief, the messages contain tens of thousands of invisible "left-to-right" and "right-to-left" control characters that can overload WhatsApp, causing the app to freeze up or the whole mobile operating system to go down.
Users have reported that the text bomb is capable of affecting both the Android and iOS versions of WhatsApp, but so far only Android phones have been completely taken down by the bug. iPhone’s operating systems appear less likely to fall victim to the disruptive bug, but iPhone users have reported that their app has crashed.
Facebook, WhatsApp’s parent company, hasn’t issued a statement on the bug. That statement, as well as a solution to the message bombs, is likely to come in the next few days. In the meantime, consumers should be sure not to open any suspicious messages they receive.