A message, viral on social media, claims that the WhatsApp CEO has warned users to change their display picture for 20-25 days as it could be misused by terrorists, hackers and ISIS. The message has been signed by “IPS officer AK Mittal, Commissioner Delhi.”
A version of the message implores women users to be especially wary.
TRUE OR FALSE
The claim is false. This is an old message that is circulating again. It had been debunked in 2016, and the earliest it was reported was by The Indian Express on 5 July, 2016.
The message ends with the claim that AK Mittal is the current Delhi Commissioner but in reality, the commissioner since 2017 has been Amulya Patnaik who was succeeding Alok Kumar Verma.
The Quint spoke to the Anil Kumar Mittal, Delhi Police PRO, who said, “The information is false. We got this message 6-8 months before as well, it was not true then too. My name is also AK Mittal, but I did not send any such message.”
Additionally, there has also been no official statement from WhatsApp or the authorities about the claims in the message.
Another way to verify the authenticity of the message is to call the number provided. When The Quint tried multiple times, it was switched off.
On the Truecaller app, the primary identification was under the name of Arshad Ali, although it did include “Ak Mital Ips Delhi” in brackets. However, the spelling of “Mital” was different from the viral message, where it was “Mittal.”
OLD HOAXES RESURFACING
There has been a recent trend of old viral messages – that have been proven false – cropping up again in 2019.
These messages could remain exactly the same, or could resurface with alterations of one of two lines. Recently, The Quint reported on fake information in the form of videos or text being rehashed in 2019 and bringing up the same confusions that had already been debunked.
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