Millions of popular messaging app WhatsApp could be banned without warning imminently.
The problem directly affects Android users, who should be wary of being banned from WhatsApp if they have used one of the 'cloned' apps.
Cloned apps allow Android users to use their WhatsApp but with the potential for extra features like sending more photos, hiding if a person has read a message and the ability to auto-reply.
WhatsApp does not offer, or offers restrictions on, these particular features.
Now, the app's developers are fighting back and people should be watchful if they want to continue to use the service.
So, could you get banned from WhatsApp?
What is the WhatsApp ban?
Users of apps such as GB WhatsApp and WhatsApp Delta – copycats built by third parties – risk being banned from the original service under new rules.
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Users of WhatsApp may receive a notice telling them that they are temporarily banned, which can be a real problem for users, who may need the service for contacting friends and family.
There are around 2 billion WhatsApp users worldwide.
"If you received an in-app message stating your account is 'temporarily banned' this means that you're likely using an unsupported version of WhatsApp instead of the official WhatsApp app," they said.
Why are WhatsApp clones not allowed?
App clones reduce the security of WhatsApp chats as they link to third-party apps, despite having some other more desirable features.
One of the appeals for WhatsApp users is that it provides higher levels of security than text messages and some other messenger apps.
They cannot guarantee that clone apps offer the same level of safety.
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They said: "Unsupported apps, such as WhatsApp Plus, GB WhatsApp, or apps that claim to move your WhatsApp chats between phones, are altered versions of WhatsApp."
"These unofficial apps are developed by third parties and violate our Terms of Service. WhatsApp doesn't support these third-party apps because we can't validate their security practices."
What if I get banned from WhatsApp?
Users who continuously use cloned apps may end up with a permanent ban, but most people will end up with a temporary one. Chats, in the instance of a permanent ban, could be deleted forever.
Livemint have a guide on what to do to make sure everything is backed up if you receive a temporary ban.
- Look for the ban timer and wait until it ends.
- If you are using GB WhatsApp, go to Options, Chats, and Back-Up Chats.
- Next, open Phone Settings, Storage, then tap Files.
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- Look for the GB WhatsApp folder and select it.
- Look for More in the upper right corner of the screen.
- Rename the folder as "WhatsApp."
- Go to the Play Store and install the official app. Don't forget to verify your phone number.
- If you are already on the Backup screen, go to Restore and tap Next. You will now see your current messages in history.
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