No, no WhatsApp group is distributing free school books

Image Courtesy: Namibia Fact Check

A link invites pupils to join a chat group that probably serves as a way to scam them or exposes them to pornographic material.

A viral chain message on WhatsApp invites pupils to join a chat group called ‘O&A Level Books and Notice’ group, where they will be supplied with books and school related notices.

The link that invites people into the WhatsApp group.

The message started making the rounds during the Namibian first semester school examinations that ran from May into June 2022, and was shared with Namibia Fact Check on 13 June 2022.

The message appeared to mainly be shared around by grade 10 and 11 senior secondary pupils who were busy writing or studying for their mid-year exams.  

The message states that only when a person has shared the link to the group in three other WhatsApp groups will the sharer gain access to the ‘O&A Level Books and Notice’ group. The message reads that upon joining the group, participants would be supplied with notes for all subjects, including books in all sorts of electronic formats that cover a wide range of subject matter. 

However, a message that appears when one closes the group link suggests that the ‘O&A Level Books and Notice’ group might actually contain pornographic material.

The message that seems to suggest that participants will be exposed to pornographic material.

Lastly, upon leaving the fake page, you are asked a question (image above) that wants you to confirm that you want to leave the page, with the only answer option being “OK”. Social media users are cautioned to not respond to these types of questions and to simply close the page or link.

How to spot a fake WhatsApp group link:

  1. Did you look at the description link? When attentively looking at the name of the malicious link, it does not say which is the correct format of WhatsApp group chat links, the link is quite similar in that it shows 
  2. Did you look at the HTTP? WhatsApp has a secure HyperText Transfer Protocol which appears as HTTPS, but the link circulating shows as HTTP which means that it is not a secure link. 
  3. Does the link add you to the group? When the link automatically adds you to the said group, the WhatsApp link is correct. However, the link on the chain message does not directly add you to a WhatsApp group but rather takes you to a page that invites you to join the group.
  4. How does the original page look? The original WhatsApp web page provides the copyright tag 2022 © WhatsApp LLC with all the descriptions in English. But the copyright tag of the malicious link directs you to a ‘© 2019 WhatsApp Inc.’ and the descriptions are all in Spanish.

The statements, information and/or data referenced in this article have been assessed and found to be false.

30th June 2022

Tia-Zia //Garoes

Tia-Zia //Garoes is a trainee fact checker and researcher with Namibia Fact Check.