WhatsApp messages about a video called “India is doing it” are a hoax

19 October 2020
What was claimed

A video circulating on WhatsApp called “India is doing it” can hack your phone in ten seconds if opened or seen.

Our verdict

This message is a hoax. Messages with similar wording about Argentina have also been debunked by fact checkers.

We’ve received questions from readers about a message circulating on WhatsApp, other messaging apps and Twitter. It is about a supposed video called “India is doing it” and readers wanted to know whether claims it can hack your phone are real.

They are not.

The full text of the message states:

“They are going to start circulating a video on WhatsApp that shows how the Covid19 curve is flattening in India. The file is called "India is doing it", do not open it or see it, it hacks your phone in 10 seconds and it cannot be stopped in any way.  Pass the information on to your family and friends. Apparently this was also mentioned on TV news.”

This video and the subsequent hack it mentions seem to be fake. Indian fact checkers BOOM have fact checked this and found the message is a hoax, they also mention a very similar message which went round earlier in 2020 which mentioned Argentina rather than India.

Other fact checkers Snopes, Africa Check and Chequeado (which is based in Argentina) also fact checked this message about the country, which was worded almost identically to the more recent message, and found it to be false too.

We’ve also seen no evidence that the video is real, or that there have been any victims of this hack.

WhatsApp provides tips for people who think they may have received a hoax or phishing message. Two of the key things it says to look out for are messages which ask the user to forward them on (which this message does) and those which claim you can avoid some sort of punishment by doing so (another thing this message also does).

These messages about India and Argentina are very similar to other viral messages we debunked earlier this year. Back then we wrote that Cybersecurity firm Sophos had said that “in theory, playing a deliberately booby-trapped video file on your mobile phone could end up in a malware infection” but it is very rare.

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