It takes just two texts to WhatsApp to crash your favorite messaging service — and maybe your device. As per a series of recent reports, it would appear that the Facebook-owned messaging app is falling victim to a malicious message bomb that can cause not only the app to crash, but perhaps your entire Android device as well. And now, new reports have found that a similar bomb is affecting Apple devices in the Messages app. This one consists of a block dot emoji and a hand pointing at it, and if opened, crashes Messages altogether.
Like other message bombs, the messages in both the WhatsApp and Messages virus feature hidden symbols between spaces. If you tap on part of the text, the app will “expand” these symbols, which could cause the app to overload or even crash your entire operating system. Thus far, at least two variations of the message bomb in WhatsApp have been identified — there’s one with a black dot that literally warns recipients of what will happen if you tap on it (and apparently, folks are still doing just that). The other says, “This is very interesting” with an emoji of a laughing face, though it’s unlikely you’ll be laughing once your phone crashes.
For the time being, WhatsApp has not issued any statement about the virus. That said, it’s likely that the messaging service will issue a fix in a matter of days, so we shouldn’t be living in fear for too much longer. In the meantime, however, it will behoove you to stay away from any suspicious-looking text messages, especially ones that explicitly warn you that bad things may happen to those who ignore warnings.
So far, users have reported that the message bomb has been capable of shutting down both the Android and iOS versions of WhatsApp, but only Android phones have fallen victim completely to the WhatsApp bug. It doesn’t seem as though the Messages bomb is causing the entire iPhone OS to crash.
While Apple has yet to issue a fix for this latest issue, one is expected to appear soon. A potential workaround is to leave the screen displaying the message so that it doesn’t pop up when you launch the Messages app. You can also try to delete the faulty message from another iOS device linked to the same iCloud account.
Updated on May 9: A similar message bomb is causing Messages on iPhones to crash.