Africa-Press – Cape verde. Mobile phone companies’ habit of recycling inactive numbers to new users means someone could get access to your old WhatsApp account.
A user of popular social networking application WhatsApp was in for a surprise when he discovered he’d been assigned someone else’s account.
Axios reported Tuesday that after getting a new SIM card in France, one of their readers’ children opened the app only to find he was greeted by messages belonging to an entirely different person.
The phenomenon, which WhatsApp reportedly described as “extremely rare,” can apparently occur because many phone service operators recycle old phone numbers after they’ve been left inactive for an extended period.
A 2017 report by the Federal Communications Commission found that “according to one source, 100,000 numbers are reassigned by wireless carriers every day.” It also indicated that “approximately 35 million telephone numbers are disconnected and aged each year.”
The outlet wrote that the reader contacted WhatsApp’s parent company, Meta*, but was told that while “the issue was a concern,” it was “outside the company’s ability to fix.”
It’s a problem that’s apparently plagued the service for years. In 2020, another outlet reported that one of its writers had experienced the same issue after purchasing a pay-as-you-go SIM card. More recently, a Vox article highlighted that the account reassignments published Tuesday indicates the issue persists to this day.
But it’s unclear whether, for Meta, the convenience factor associated with users being able to seamlessly switch between phones would be outweighed by the occasional case of accounts being mis-assigned. So far, the tech giant has given no indication it plans to change its system.
*Facebook, Instagram, and their parent company Meta are recognized as extremist and banned in the Russian Federation
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