WhatsApp introduces a new feature to enable messaging during internet blackouts.
WhatsApp announced a new feature on January 5 that lets users connect through proxy servers even if the internet is down or disrupted. Due to the denial of human rights in Iran, WhatsApp is requesting the whole global community to offer volunteer proxies so people can communicate freely.
WhatsApp wrote on Twitter, “We continue to fight for the right to communicate freely and privately.”
You can still stay connected through a server set up by volunteers and organizations that are dedicated to helping others communicate freely. In case of WhatsApp blockage in the country, the instant messaging app added, “If WhatsApp is blocked in your country, you can use a proxy to stay connected and chat with friends and family.” When connecting to WhatsApp via proxy, personal messages will remain protected by end-to-end encryption.
It further shared a link in case a user wanted to help family or friends by creating a proxy.
WhatsApp further said, “WhatsApp exists to connect the world privately, and we hope this solution helps users all over the world when the internet shuts down.”
Primarily, this feature is introduced by an instant messaging app like WhatsApp to help people who face an internet blackout or shortage. This will enable access to WhatsApp via proxy servers, so they can stay online even if the internet is weak, disrupted, or blocked completely. WhatsApp has a total of two billion active users per month, as per Demand Stage.
A proxy server is a gateway between the internet and a person. Internet traffic flows through the proxy server on its way to the address you requested.
Thousands of people are unable to reach their loved ones due to internet blockages or weak internet. Therefore, WhatsApp launched the new initiative in early 2023. Connecting via proxy maintains the high level of privacy and security that WhatsApp provides. Your personal messages are end-to-end encrypted, ensuring that they remain between you and the person with whom you are communicating and are not visible to anyone in between, not proxy servers, WhatsApp, or Meta,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in his post.
In reference to the situation in Iran, the spokesperson continued, “Our wish for 2023 is that these internet shutdowns never occur.” Disruptions like the ones we’ve seen in Iran for months on end violate human rights and prevent people from receiving critical assistance. In the case of these shutdowns, we hope this solution helps people wherever there is a need for a secure and reliable connection.
WhatsApp hopes to achieve this new feat soon with the help of volunteers around the globe. This new feature enables users to connect and communicate freely around the world without any internet disruptions. Moreover, users can set up their own proxy servers to help others connect to the app.
This doesn’t change the levels of privacy and security that WhatsApp provides to all users. Personal messages and calls will be protected by end-to-end encryption. This feature is available in the most recent update of the app. Only use a proxy when you are unable to connect to WhatsApp. The IP address may be visible to the proxy provider, which is not WhatsApp.
The prevailing situation in Iran urged WhatsApp to introduce this feature. The spokesperson expected that such blackouts would never occur again. WhatsApp is even urging the entire global community to volunteer proxies to help people communicate with each other. This feature will help people around the world stay connected even if their internet access is weak, disrupted, or blocked by some malicious actors.