How to stay safe on WhatsApp

The safety and security of you and your messages matter to us. We want you to know about the tools and features we've designed to help you stay safe while using WhatsApp.

Our Terms of Service

One way we help you stay safe on WhatsApp is through our Terms of Service. Our Terms of Service outline prohibited activities, which include sharing content (in the status, profile photos, or messages) that's illegal, obscene, defamatory, threatening, intimidating, harassing, hateful, racially or ethnically offensive, or instigates or encourages conduct that would be illegal, or is otherwise inappropriate or violates our Terms of Service. We may ban a user if we believe that user is violating our Terms of Service.
For more information or examples of activities that violate our Terms of Service, please review the “Acceptable Use of Our Services” section of our Terms of Service. You can also learn more about account bans.

Be mindful of what you share

We encourage you to think carefully before you decide to share something with your WhatsApp contacts. Consider whether you would want others to see what you've sent.
When you share a chat, photo, video, file or voice message with someone else on WhatsApp, they'll have a copy of these messages. They'll have the ability to forward or share these messages with others if they choose to. For information about view once, read this article.
WhatsApp also has a location feature that you can use to share your location in a WhatsApp message. You should only share your location with people you trust.
Learn more about how to use WhatsApp responsibly in this article.

Safety and security features

On WhatsApp, we've created some basic controls that you can adjust as you see fit to help you stay safe.

Safety tools for unknown senders

When you receive a message for the first time from someone who is not saved to your contacts, we will show you signals in the message that you can use to determine how to respond. These signals will let you know if they are already a contact in your address book, if you have groups in common, and if their phone number is registered in a different country from yours. From there, you can decide if you should reply, add them as a contact, block them, or report them.

Privacy settings

By default, WhatsApp sets your privacy settings to allow:
  • Any user to see your profile photo, read receipts and when you're online.
  • Your contacts to see your status updates, about and when you were last seen.
  • Any users to add you to groups.
  • Anyone to call you and for your phone to ring.
You can adjust your privacy settings for individual WhatsApp chats to control who sees your information and can contact you. Learn more in this article.

Read receipts

You can also turn off read receipts. If you turn off read receipts:
  • You won't send or receive read receipts.
  • Read receipts are always sent for group chats, even if you turn off the option in your privacy settings.
  • When you receive the first message from someone not saved in your contacts, your read receipt won’t show to the sender until you reply or add them as a contact, even if you have read receipts turned on.
Learn more about read receipts and other privacy settings in this article.

Block or report contacts and messages

We encourage you to report problematic content and contacts to us. You can control who you interact with by blocking specific contacts or reporting messages or contacts on WhatsApp. When you receive a view once photo or video, you can report the account to us directly from the media viewer. Learn what happens when you use our block and report features, and how to do this, in this article.

Additional safety resources

If you feel you or anyone else is in immediate danger, please contact your local emergency services.
If you believe someone wishes to hurt themselves and you're concerned for their safety, please contact your local emergency services or a suicide prevention hotline.
If you receive or encounter content indicating that a child is being abused or exploited, please contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). You can also report the user. Learn more about reporting in this article. Please do not include any screenshots of the content in your report.

Related resources

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