‘WhatsApp Virus’: Hoax Warning Resurfaces Online in Pakistan

“NITB Cyber Alerts,” reads a Facebook post shared on January 11, 2021 by Facebook page TechRupt, which has more than 100,000 followers.

“A malicious video named ” Argentina” is circulating on WhatsApp that shows how the COVID-19 curve is flattening in Argentina. Do not open the link as it hacks your phone in 10 seconds & it cannot be stopped in any way.”

The post features a poster issued by Pakistan’s National Information Technology Board (NITB). The title reads: “CYBER SECURITY ALERT.”

Similar posts with the same warning were also shared on Facebook herehere and here and on Twitter herehere and here.

The claim in the posts is misleading.

Deleted tweet

A keyword search on Google showed that the NITB removed its warning about the hoax message.

A digital archive of the NITB’s tweet can be seen here on the Wayback Machine.

Global hoax

The same misleading warning message has previously circulated on social media around the world, including in Argentina, Nigeria, the Philippines and the US. AFP debunked the message as a hoax.

Nigeria’s National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) dismissed the purported warning, saying it was “aimed at causing panic”.

“The message warns the recipient not to open a video file called “Argentina Is Doing It” as it will hack their phone in 10 seconds,” it said in a Facebook statement on July 18, 2020. “This message has been identified as fake.”

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