Third-party chat support in WhatsApp could increase spam risk

The European Commission’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) requires WhatsApp (and Messenger) to offer interoperability with other messaging platforms in the European Union (EU). In simpler terms, it requires WhatsApp to allow people to send and receive messages from people on other messaging services in the region, such as Signal or Telegram.

According to a new report from WABetaInfo, the latest beta version of WhatsApp for Android (v2.23.19.8) features ‘third-party chats’ to comply with those regulations (to allow people to chat with people on other platforms), and the publication has also posted a screenshot of the feature, which reveals some interesting (and concerning) things about it.

The new version of the app introduces people to third-party chats, informing them about it, and asking them if they want to activate the feature. The first point on the welcome screen says that enabling third-party chats allows you to message “someone outside of WhatsApp” and that “third-party apps may use different end-to-end encryption.

WhatsApp Third-Party Chats

What sounds concerning is the second point, which says “Spam and scams may be more common on third-party chats.” That means enabling third-party chats may introduce you to more spam (as people from any platform will be able to message you), which could increase the chances of you being a target of a scam. The third point is equally concerning. It says “Third-party apps have their own policies. They may handle your data differently than WhatsApp does.” It means that these apps could misuse your data, which could be a threat to your privacy.

Fortunately, you can decide not to use this feature. However, if you turn on the feature, WhatsApp will show chats from other platforms in a separate section, making it easier for you to distinguish between chats from WhatsApp users and chats from users from other platforms. It is worth mentioning that this feature will be available only in the European Region. Hopefully, we will get more details about the feature once people start using it.

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