WhatsApp launched the much-anticipated video calling feature for Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone users earlier this week. The WhatsApp video calling feature was tested for months before being made commercially available. As the news of the video calling rollout hit the Web, many users started receiving and sharing an unverified link on WhatsApp, claimed to be an invite link to activate WhatsApp video calling. Please note that the invite link that has gone viral on WhatsApp is fake, and clicking it could potentially expose your smartphone to harmful attacks.
WhatsApp introduced an invite system last year when it rolled out voice calling in phases to all its users, and appears to be the reason scam artists are trying an 'invite link' to dupe users to do the same for WhatsApp video calling. Notably however, the official invite system did not make use of links to any website - not even the company's own. The Facebook-owned firm certainly appears to have learnt from its mistakes with the voice calling rollout, and WhatsApp video calling is automatically enabled via updates from respective app stores.
(Also see: How Much Data Does WhatsApp Video Calling Consume Compared to Other Apps?)
This hasn't stopped the unsolicited invite link from going viral on WhatsApp, and duping users. It wrongly guides users that only people with an invitation can enable WhatsApp video calling. This information is wrong as all iPhone, Windows Phone, and Android users now have the WhatsApp video calling update rolling out to their smartphones. There is no invite system being used by the company, and the WhatsApp video calling feature is available to all freely via a simple update. Just head to the Google Play/App Store/ or Windows Store to check for an update manually, and download it via mobile data or Wi-Fi to activate video calling.
(Also see: WhatsApp Video Calling First Impressions)
This message is widely being thought to be the real deal because of link name and the interface of the website that it leads to artfully spoof the legitimate site and app. There is more than one variations of this invite being forwarded in an attempt to dupe people waiting to try WhatsApp video calling. The links 'whatsapp.org.videocallenable.co' or 'whatsappvideostart.com' have an interface that matches the actual app's colour pattern. It has a bold green button in the middle that claims to activate WhatsApp video calling and even has screenshots of the video calling feature to convince users of its legitimacy.
Clicking on the link will lead to another page that will ask you to invite more friends on WhatsApp. Notably, it even mentions the existence of group WhatsApp video calling - something that doesn't officially yet exist on the platform - perhaps as a lure for users who may want that extra feature. The site appears to be a phishing one that seeks user details, and may possibly also provide a download of a malicious app.
(Also see: Is WhatsApp Video Calling a Game-Changer for India?)
We reiterate that this link could be malicious and we strongly recommend you not to click it at all, let alone share it with friends. Apart from not actually giving you WhatsApp video calling, it could expose your smartphone to many unwanted vulnerabilities. If users do click through using the Chrome browser, they will receive a Google Safe Browsing warning of a 'Deceptive site ahead'. However, other browsers may not warn users in time, and thus it is very important that information of the potentially dangerous nature of such links be shared with all friends. All WhatsApp users should also note that the company will never send out a link to activate WhatsApp video calling or any other feature or to provide rewards. Never click any such link, or download any such software.
Here's where you'll find the latest versions of WhatsApp for iPhone, Windows Phone, and Android to download and get the WhatsApp video calling feature.