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WhatsApp acknowledged that it was possible for someone to manipulate the quote feature, but the company disagreed that it was a flaw. WhatsApp said the system was working as it had intended, because the trade-offs to prevent such a deception by verifying every message on the platform would create an enormous privacy risk or bog down the service.

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The company said it worked to find and remove anyone using a fake WhatsApp application to spoof the service. WhatsApp has 1. But it has come under fire in recent months for the spread of misinformation on its platform. In India, false rumors about child kidnappers circulating through WhatsApp led to mob violence.

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In Brazil, false stories about deadly reactions to vaccines for the yellow fever spread over the messaging service. However, WhatsApp said the issue raised by Check Point was unrelated to its efforts to curb misinformation. Oded Vanunu, head of vulnerability research at Check Point, said the ability to alter messages gave attackers a powerful tool to spread misinformation from what appeared to be a trusted source.

It is especially problematic in group chats, which can include up to people. Multiple messages can come in at once and it can be easy to lose track of what someone has said, he said. For now, the issue appears limited to a discussion among security experts.

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Both WhatsApp and Check Point Software said they had not seen regular users creating fake quote messages in chats. Check Point said it also discovered a way within group chats to send a message to a specific individual within the discussion. That individual is tricked into believing that the whole group saw the message and responds accordingly.

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WhatsApp played down the concerns raised by Check Point, saying most people know the person who they are messaging on the service. The company said 90 percent of all messages on the service are sent in one-on-one conversations, and the majority of groups are six people or less — making it less likely that an unknown person can infiltrate a conversation to trick other users.

A person can check the validity of a quote message by clicking on it. Doing so will take you back to the point in the chat when the message was sent unless the message was deleted or the person was not a participant in the chat when the message was sent. WhatsApp said the potential fixes to this issue were not worth trying. One solution would be to create transcripts of every message exchange to verify the accuracy of every quote.

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Creating such a transcript is a ificant privacy risk because those s of what people wrote to each other must be stored somewhere, the company said. Ever considered a password manager? You should.

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There are also many ways to brush away the tracks you leave on the internet.

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