A WhatsApp prank message, featuring a black dot, is making the rounds in the Facebook-owned communications app, crashing it for users who accept the message's dare.
Over 60 billion WhatsApp messages are shared on the platform daily, but this particular one is gaining viral attention for being able to crash the app. How does the seemingly innocent message cause the app to hang and crash?
WhatsApp Crash Message With The Black Dot
There have been various WhatsApp prank messages throughout the app's history, and the black dot message is just the latest example.
"If you touch the black point then your WhatsApp will hang," the message simply says, followed by an image of the black dot with a finger emoji telling the receiver to touch it.
The message actually looks harmless, and it appears doubtful that touching the black dot really will crash WhatsApp. However, after users touch the black dot, WhatsApp will hang, at least temporarily, and may then crash.
It should be noted though that the black dot prank message only works on Android smartphones, following an iOS bug that blocked WhatsApp and other communications apps.
How Does The WhatsApp Black Dot Message Work?
Touching the black dot will not cause any permanent damage to WhatsApp or the user's smartphone. However, users may be interested in what makes it work, particularly because it does not look like a message that leads to WhatsApp crashing Android devices.
The secret to the message is not actually the black dot, but rather the blank space that comes right after it. When the WhatsApp prank message is converted to HTML, it contains repetitive instances of the "&rlm:" character, which is code for right-to-left text directional formatting.
The right-to-left text format is used for languages such as Arabic and Urdu while the more common left-to-right text format is used for languages such as English. The hidden "&rlm:" code in the black dot prank message instructs WhatsApp to change the direction of the text repeatedly, which requires a lot of processing power.
Android smartphones with massive processing power might be able to survive the message with just a hanging WhatsApp, but other devices will likely see WhatsApp crash.
The WhatsApp black dot prank message can be easily deleted, but mischievous users might want to pass it on to their friends. This is not the best practice, though, as some messages might turn out to be very harmful WhatsApp exploits.