WhatsApp “Black Dot” bug affects both iPhones and Android phones

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A new malicious WhatsApp ‘text bomb’ can block off access to your apps and crash your entire smartphone. The bug affects both iPhones and Android phones and occurs when a specific message is sent to handsets.

And it’s even more dangerous than the infamous smartphone-crashing Telugu alphabet text back in February, because this new SMS doesn’t even need to be opened. Just receiving it can trigger your handset to switch off.

Revealed on Reddit, the message reads “This is very interesting!” and signs off with the popular “face with tears of joy” emoji.

Lurking within this seemingly innocent text are tens of thousands of invisible “left-to-right” and “right-to-left” control characters that can derail your device.

Tricksters wishing to circulate the text bomb are advised to copy it from the Pastebin website and share it via the WhatsApp Web app for desktop.

Another variant is said to have ‘hung’ users’ WhatsApp app for few seconds. This message reads, “If you touch the black point then your WhatsApp will hang.” The message has a black icon, clicking on this is said to freeze the app or make it unresponsive.

The message thread is said to be crashing the app due to the blank space between the text and the black dot. The message when converted into HTML reveals that the text consists of RLM (right-to-left mark). This is an invisible formatting character which is used to distinguish between left-to-right text and right-to-left text.

In English text, LRM (left-to-right) directional formatting is used while the said WhatsApp message uses RLM. It is widely speculated that the use of wrong directional formatting character is instructing WhatsApp to change the direction from left-to-right to right-to-left, which ultimately results in the app crashing.

If you’re on the receiving end of the new text bomb, you may find that your iPhone or Android phone becomes unresponsive. You won’t be able to open WhastApp and other messaging apps may be inaccessible too. To make matters worse, your phone could crash, forcing you to restart it.

But fortunately, it doesn’t seem as though the WhatsApp bug will wipe your handset or require you to completely reboot the device.

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