WhatsApp has a dedicated safety portal and provides regular updates on its Terms of Service and new App Features. Below are some of their safety tips for Parents, Educators and Users alike:
Terms of Service
One way we help you stay safe on WhatsApp is through our Terms of Service. Our Terms of Service set forth the activities on WhatsApp that are prohibited. For instance, submitting content (in the status, profile photos or messages) that’s illegal, obscene, defamatory, threatening, intimidating, harassing, hateful, racially, or ethnically offensive, or instigates or encourages conduct that would be illegal, or otherwise inappropriate violates our Terms of Service. We’ll ban a user if we believe that user is violating our Terms of Service.
For more information about examples of activities that violate our Terms of Service, please review the “Acceptable Use of Our Services” section of our Terms of Service.
On WhatsApp, we’ve created some basic controls that you can adjust as you see fit to help you protect yourself:
Control who sees your information
You can set your last seen, profile photo and/or status to the following options:
Everyone: Your last seen, profile photo and/or status will be available to all WhatsApp users.
My Contacts: Your last seen, profile photo and/or status will be available to your contacts from your address book only.
Nobody: Your last seen, profile photo and/or status won’t be available to anyone.
If you turn off Read receipts, you won’t send read receipts. You also won’t be able to see other users’ read receipts.
Note: Read Receipts are always sent for group chats, even if you turn off the option in your privacy settings.
Control what you see and with whom you interact
You can block specific contacts from interacting with you via WhatsApp. For more information on how to block/unblock a contact and to learn what happens when you block a contact, please review these articles.
Control what you share
You can also decide what to share with your contacts on WhatsApp, and we encourage you to think carefully before you decide to share something. Ask yourself: would you want others to see what you’ve sent?
Please be advised that we don’t retain messages after they’ve been delivered, in the ordinary course of providing our service. Once a message is delivered over WhatsApp, to help ensure the safety, confidentiality and security of the messages you send we don’t store the message.
However, when you share a chat, photo, video, file or voice message with someone else on WhatsApp, they’ll have a copy of these messages. They’ll have the ability to re-share these messages with others on and off WhatsApp.
WhatsApp also has a location feature that you can use to share your then-current location via a WhatsApp message. You should only share your location with people you trust.
Advanced safety and security features
Report issues to WhatsApp
You can send reports to WhatsApp by contacting us from inside the app.
- On Android: Simply go to WhatsApp > tap More options > Settings > Help > Contact us.
- On iPhone: Simply go to WhatsApp > Settings > Help > Contact Us.
- On Windows Phone: Simply go to WhatsApp > menu > settings > about > support.
Please provide as much information as possible.
Important: If you feel that you or someone else is in emotional or physical danger, please contact your local law enforcement authorities. They’re better able to help in these cases.
We encourage you to report problematic content to us. Please keep in mind that to help ensure the safety, confidentiality and security of your messages, we generally don’t have the contents of messages available to us, which limits our ability to verify the report and take action.
When needed, you can take a screenshot of the content and share it, along with any available contact info, with appropriate law enforcement authorities.
When you receive a message from an unknown number for the first time, you’ll have the option to report the number directly inside the chat. As always, this report sends the most recent messages in the chat to WhatsApp.
You can also report a contact or a group from their profile information using the following steps:
- Open the chat.
- Tap on the contact or group name to open their profile information.
- Scroll to the bottom and tap Report contact or Report group.
We may ban accounts if we believe the account activity is in violation of our Terms of Service. Per our Terms of Service, we may retain the right to ban you without notification. Please be aware that a user report of conduct in violation of our Terms of Service won’t necessarily result in us banning the user or otherwise taking action against the user.
Please review the “Acceptable Use of Our Services” section of our Terms of Service carefully to learn more about the appropriate uses of WhatsApp and the activities that violate our Terms of Service.
Spam and Hoaxes
We work diligently to reduce any spam messages that come through our system. Creating a safe space for users to communicate with one another is a priority. However, just like regular SMS or phone calls, it’s possible for other WhatsApp users who have your phone number to contact you. So, we want to help you identify and handle spam and hoax messages.
Spam and hoax messages may or may not come from one of your contacts. These types of messages spread false information and are designed to deceive you and prompt you to act in a certain way. If a message looks suspicious or sounds too good to be true, don’t tap on it, share it or forward it.
Watch out for messages that:
- Include misspellings or grammatical mistakes
- Ask you to tap on a link
- Ask you to share your personal information (like credit card and bank account numbers, birthdate, passwords, etc.)
- Ask you to forward the message
- Ask you to click on a link to “activate” a new feature
- Say that you have to pay to use WhatsApp (WhatsApp is a free app. We will never ask you to pay to use WhatsApp and you don’t have to do anything to use WhatsApp for free.)
What to do
If you’re receiving the message from an unknown number, you’ll be given the option to report the number to WhatsApp directly from the app.
If you’ve received spam from a contact, delete the message and don’t click on any links or provide personal information. Tell the contact that the message they sent includes spam and point them to this WhatsApp safety page.
You can also send reports to WhatsApp by contacting us from inside the app.
If you feel you or anyone else is in immediate danger, please contact your local emergency services.
If you receive content from someone who wishes to hurt themselves, and you’re concerned for their safety, please contact your local emergency services or a suicide prevention hotline.
If you receive or encounter content indicating abuse or exploitation of a child, please contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).