This week, WhatsApp unveiled a brand-new automatic call-speciation function intended to block suspected scam calls. In order to counteract an increase in unsolicited calls, the function, which is labeled simply “silence unknown callers” in the WhatsApp settings menu, is adding an additional layer of security to calls and messages from unknown numbers.
Automatically Screen Out Spam
The new feature, which went live on Tuesday in all countries, will “automatically screen out spam, scams, and calls from unknown people,” according to a news release from WhatsApp. According to Reuters, a 2021 Truecaller analysis indicated that WhatsApp users in India were among the most afflicted, with an average of 17 spam calls each month. The feature, plainly dubbed “silence unknown callers” in the WhatsApp settings menu, is bringing another layer of protection to calls and messages from unknown numbers to combat an increase in unwanted calls.
In response to rising spam complaints, Meta’s new feature is designed to increase protection to provide more control over users’ incoming calls. The unknown calls will not ring on WhatsApp, but will instead be redirected to the user’s call list, where the user can still see the missed call, in case it was misidentified as spam.
The company is pairing its Silence Unknown Callers feature with Privacy Checkup, also launched today, which will navigate the user through steps to secure their messages, calls, and personal information.
The move was made in response to claims that more than 500 million people have been complaining recently about an increase in spam calls coming from other countries, particularly those with the area codes +251 (Ethiopia), +60 (Malaysia), +62 (Indonesia), +254 (Kenya), and +84 (Vietnam).
Newer Tactic used by criminals
A spokesman for WhatsApp told TechCrunch that while Meta did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment, “Bad actors find other ways to deceive customers. International fraud calls are a newer tactic used by criminals.
According to a 2022 study by the Federal Trade Commission, the top five scams come from people posing as online shopping scammers, giving rewards, sweepstakes, and lotteries, and suggesting chances for work and business that seem legitimate. According to the FTC, it received 2.4 million fraud claims in 2017 and Americans lost over $8.8 billion in total, up 30% from 2021.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, India’s Minister of State for IT, indicated at the Public Affairs Forum of India last month that he was issuing a warning to Meta about the enormous increase in receiving spam calls in reaction to the flood of spam calls. “I have stressed repeatedly that accountability, openness, trust, and safety are the duty of platforms who deliver to digital nagriks [digital citizens],” he said.
According to Meta, its new security upgrades will cut the number of spam calls by at least 50%. The company told TechCrunch that it expects to be able to properly manage the present situation. We’ll keep up our tireless efforts to give our users a secure experience.