Routine WhatsApp update shared misleadingly as breaking news

Claim skips mentioning that this happens every year and is not unexpected or suspicious

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Claim: A video claims that WhatsApp will not be operational for multiple users starting on 31 December 2022.

Fact: The video is misleading as WhatsApp pulls support from different out-of-date operating systems every year. It is nothing new and is instead presented sensationally as a “breaking news” report that may confuse users.

On 27 December 2022, Facebook page ‘News 24/7 Urdu’ posted a video with the caption, “Tech news: Breaking News: Whats app new update for 2023,” claiming that instant messaging platform, WhatsApp, “will stop working on multiple phones on 31 December 2022”.

In what appears to be a news bulletin, complete with cards and tickers, the voiceover mentions the following:

  • WhatsApp won’t work on multiple smartphones starting 31 December.
  • In 2023, WhatsApp won’t be operational for numerous users.

Later in the video, the voiceover mentions:

  • People with old Android and iPhone operating systems won’t be able to use WhatsApp in 2023 in a development that occurs at every year-end.
  • In an October 2022 report, Apple Inc. said people who use iOS 10 and 11 won’t be able to use WhatsApp and pushed for updating the iOS.
  • People who use 49 specific smartphones, including two iPhones, will not be able to use WhatsApp effectively from 31 December.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check searched Google for any relevant news over the past year.

We found a 21 May 2022 report by WABetaInfo — a website that shares news and real-time updates about WhatsApp — that says the platform “is now planning to drop the support for iOS 10, iOS 11, iPhone 5, and iPhone 5C over the coming months”.

“WhatsApp will stop supporting iOS 10 and iOS 11 after October 24, 2022,” according to a screenshot shared in the website’s report.

The same was also reported by PCMag and Engadget. In a 2 September 2022 report, Mashable India wrote, “WhatsApp has already begun alerting iPhone users who are using iOS 10 or iOS 11 versions of the program.”

A Forbes story from 24 October 2022 titled, “Apple iOS 16.1: iPhone Users Urged To Update For Dazzling New Features,” explains the procedure to install the new operating system, who the update is for, and what’s new in it.

Soch Fact Check browsed through the WhatsApp Help Center, where we found three different pages of relevant information: About supported operating systems, About supported devices (Android), and About supported devices (iPhone).

The WhatsApp Help Center states that the application currently provides support for and recommends using the following devices:

  1. Android running OS 4.1 and newer
  2. iPhone running iOS 12 and newer
  3. KaiOS 2.5.0 and newer, including JioPhone and JioPhone 2

It also mentions the following:

To choose what to stop supporting, every year we, like other technology companies, look at which devices and software are the oldest and have the fewest number of people still using them. These devices also might not have the latest security updates, or might lack the functionality required to run WhatsApp.

Before we stop supporting your operating system, you’ll be notified directly in WhatsApp ahead of time and reminded a few times to upgrade.

Virality

Soch Fact Check found that the ‘News 24/7 Urdu’ post received more than 1.6 millions views, 40,000 reactions, 18,000 shares, and 1,300 comments. The same video was also shared as a Facebook Reel, where it was shared almost 100 times.

The claim was also shared here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here on Facebook, whereas here, here, and here on YouTube.

Soch Fact Check also conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the seven-day period from 24 December 2022 to 31 December using the search term, “Whats app new update for 2023.” We found close to two dozen posts on Facebook that gained over 60,000 interactions.

Conclusion: The video is misleading as WhatsApp pulls support from different out-of-date operating systems every year. It is nothing new and is instead presented sensationally as a “breaking news” report that may confuse users.


Background image in cover photo: Kelly Sikkema

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