WhatsApp or WhatsDown, WhatsApp Safety Is Important
by Rabbi Zvi Y. Gluck
Stacy* called us in a quandary. She is a newly divorced woman who is part of some community assistance WhatsApp chat groups.
These chat groups were created to assist people with all sorts of needs, from finding rides and babysitters to shopping and more. The people who started the group are good people. They were looking for a practical way to offer help and were creative in their approach. However, Stacy now found herself with her bank account depleted as well as additional debt, due to credit cards being ordered in her name and maxed out.
How did this happen?
This is her story, and it could be anyone’s.
After joining one of the chat groups, another member, a woman Stacy’s age, befriended her, and the two quickly became “close.” Stacy’s new friend soon suggested a man for her to date. Stacy trusted this friend, despite having never met her, because they had many authentic conversations via chat. So she readily accepted the suggestion and began dating this man.
Fast forward three months. The man cleaned Stacy out of everything…and the close friend? It was the guy she was dating, hiding behind the WhatsApp chat platform, masquerading as a woman.
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. Despite all the information available, many in our communities do not view WhatsApp with the same seriousness as other social media and online platforms. This is a mistake. WhatsApp is owned by the same company that owns Facebook, and it is slowly being pushed in the direction of becoming an even more open and comprehensive social media platform.
If a mature woman can fall for this, imagine what could happen to a vulnerable teen or anyone else.
Many parents have filters and other software to monitor their children’s online connections. WhatsApp is more difficult to control.
Let’s break it down as far as public WhatsApp chats are concerned:
A person can join a public WhatsApp group by clicking a link. At that moment, all other members are visible with their profile pictures, phone numbers and names. There is nothing stopping this person from messaging any member of the group.
This method is used commonly by predators and scam artists alike.
We urge you to educate yourself about online safety, make sure your loved ones are also getting that info, and let’s do all we can to keep our loved ones safe.
And yes, WhatsApp is just as potentially dangerous, if not more dangerous, than other social media platforms.
*Names and details have been changed for privacy purposes
As parents, safeguarding our children’s online experiences is one of our many responsibilities. Just like you’d ensure their physical safety, it’s crucial to take proactive measures to protect your teen or tween in the digital world.
Learn More: https://amudim.org/online-safety/