REMEMBERING SREBRENICA
Home / Current Affairs / WhatsApp Contains Pornography – do your children have it?
Daniel Jedzura / Shutterstock

WhatsApp Contains Pornography – do your children have it?

Reading the title above, the danger may be misunderstood off the bat. This is not in reference to the risk that children may be sent such material by others (although that is a very real threat that needs to be addressed). This is in reference to the fact that pornography can be found within the WhatsApp application itself.

This does not include only WhatsApp. Pornography can be found in every other mainstream messaging app: Telegram, Skype, Signal, Viber, WeChat, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Slack, Reddit, TikTok, Bumble… the list goes on.

Also Read: How Watching Pornography Changes the Brain

Alarmingly, it is even present in the operating systems of the mobile phones themselves, in Apple iOS (also iPadOS and macOS) and Google Android. It can be found in the native messaging applications and the native Android keyboard.




These applications are mostly used on mobile phones, but are also found on tablets, laptops, and desktops.

This claim is not an exaggeration. Let us firstly be clear on the definition of pornography, which is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as:

The depiction of erotic behaviour (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement.

The type of pornography present in these messaging apps are video clips featuring shameful explicit sexual content that is completely inappropriate, especially for children.

The believers are described in the Qur’ān as:

الَّذِينَ يَجْتَنِبُونَ كَبَائِرَ الْإِثْمِ وَالْفَوَاحِشَ إِلَّا اللَّمَمَ

Those who avoid great sins and shameful deeds, only (falling into) small faults.[1]

Not only does such material corrupt the soul, but numerous academic studies have revealed its detrimental impact on one’s mind and behaviour, which in turn damages relationships, amongst other negative implications.

Giphy

This content appears within the GIF features of these apps.

For the unacquainted, a GIF is a file format for a moving image that is played repeatedly in a loop –essentially a short, repeated video clip without sound.

These images are usually provided by the integration of a service called Giphy, which was notably acquired by Facebook for a reported $400 million in May 2020. Tenor is also used, which was acquired by Google in 2018.

Also Read: Social Media and the Cyber Youth Crisis

The apps mentioned above have an open search feature without a filter and without a safe search option such as the one found on image search sites like Google Images. It is important to note that despite the safe search feature being flawed, there is not even an attempt to have such a feature in these apps.

Searching terms such as certain body parts, provocative clothing, or the names of celebrities or models will instantly produce vast amounts of vulgar GIFs. Promotion of homosexual activity is also present.

However, searching is not the only way to encounter such filth. Simply opening the function can be enough to present this type of material, with the default display of images being those that are most popular or trending.

Lewd and obscene material is a major issue here, but this feature also carries a wide range of highly problematic content featuring violence, drug use, and profanity. Arguably even more dangerous is the blasphemous material that is also found that aims to make a mockery of Allāh, His Dīn, and His messengers.

This is what our children are being exposed to, and what is undoubtedly being shared and received in their text messages.

Parents are responsible and accountable for protecting their children and loved ones from being exposed to such harmful content. It is imperative that we take precautions and measures that are available to us to achieve this. Failure to do so can cause long-lasting damage to our well-being and that of our children in this life and the next.

Also Read: I’m a Porn Addict… Get Me Out of Here!

This is an important reminder of the timeless guidance from our beloved Creator:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ عَلَيْهَا مَلَائِكَةٌ غِلَاظٌ شِدَادٌ لَّا يَعْصُونَ اللَّهَ مَا أَمَرَهُمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ

O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they do not disobey Allāh in what He commands them but do what they are commanded.[2]

What you can do

1

Instead of following the herd think critically and deeply about your children’s need for these devices in the first place, considering the many dangers and negative impacts they can have on their developing brains.[3]

Have a frank conversation with your children to get them to appreciate the dangers of exposing their developing brains to these devices in the first place.

2

Gradually prepare them for staying safe online when they do need to be, instead of throwing them into the deep end with a device of their own. Before giving your children new devices—if they absolutely need them—make sure you know how to operate them yourself, and how to keep those under your guardianship safe from the many dangers.

3

There is no option to remove or disable this feature. Therefore, these apps must be removed completely by uninstalling them, until there is an option to switch this feature off.

The exception is the Apple messaging app. To remove this feature, first ensure that a Screen Time passcode has been set on your child’s device:

Go to Settings > Screen Time > Use Screen Time Passcode. You will be promoted to set a passcode that will only be known to you and should not be given to your child.

Now, go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > iTunes & App Store Purchases > Installing Apps. Ensure that this is set to “Don’t Allow”.

Next, go to the Messages app and compose a new message. Swipe the banner until you see the “More” icon with 3 dots.

From here, choose “Edit” and remove “#images” from the Favourites.

Following this, the #images app will appear on the bottom of the screen under “MORE APPS”. Flip the switch to turn this off.

This cannot be re-added as long as the first step of preventing apps from being installed has completed.

4

Raise awareness by sharing this article with other parents. Use the hashtag #UninstallPorn. Most parents are unaware that this problem exists and will be unsure how to address it.

If your child is being encouraged to use these platforms by their school then speak to the school leadership to consider alternatives like email for communications, or at least teach the children first about staying safe on those platforms.

5

Call on these companies to add parental controls allowing the removal of the feature for children.

Below is a table of contacts and a suggested template (that we recommend to be customised before sending).

Company Contact Contact
Google CEO Sundar Pichai [email protected]
Facebook/Instagram CEO Mark Zuckerberg [email protected]
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey [email protected]
Microsoft/Skype CEO Satya Nadella [email protected]
Signal Signal Support https://support.signal.org/hc/en-us/requests/new
Viber Viber Support https://help.viber.com/en/contact
Telegram Telegram Support https://telegram.org/support
WhatsApp WhatsApp Support https://www.whatsapp.com/contact/?subject=messenger

Suggested template

“Dear [contact]

I have been disturbed to find the presence of explicit sexual content within the GIF feature in your messaging app.

These kinds of apps are promoted to be suitable for children who are 12 years and above, yet I find this vulgar material to be completely inappropriate. As a result even some schools promote the use of your app for communication between students.

I call upon you to add parental controls to your apps so that we can disable the Giphy feature from the devices of our children.

I look forward to hear your response.”

Also Read: Entertaining Ourselves to Death

Source: www.Islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] Al-Qur’ān 53:22

[2] Al-Qur’ān 66:6

[3] https://www.islam21c.com/islamic-thought/social-media-cyber-youth-crisis/

About Zishan Khan

Zishan Khan is the Technology Manager at Islam21c

12 comments

  1. With due respect there seems to be a misunderstanding or misrepresentation here. The central claim is not correct. The mentioned feature is internet based. The alleged porn is fetched from the internet… it is not built in the WhatsApp application… For porn to be found on internet is not a surprising thing to write a whole alarming article about!

    If someone is actively looking for porn they can find it much more easily than search the giphys inside a small area of WhatsApp input prompt.

    • The source of the porn and the method by which it arrives into the app is irrelevant. Of course the porn comes from the Internet, where else would it? Note that it has also been found to be downloaded, cached and shared.

      If PornHub had an app, would you argue that it is incorrect or a misunderstanding or misrepresentation to say it contains porn, or porn is found within it, just because the material is “fetched from the internet”?

      Porn from the Internet is well-known and is not the point being made here. The fact that it is accessible in apps that parents were giving to children thinking that they were safe, is not well-known and it is the point being made here.

      Children should not “find it much more easily”. Parents have a duty to ensure this. How this can be done effectively could be the basis for another article.

  2. This really is disturbing – I did send a detailed email to WhatsApp, and this is the unsatisfactory comment they sent back:
    Hi,
    Thanks for your message.

    WhatsApp allows you to search for and share GIFs from third-party providers. With WhatsApp end-to-end encryption, only you and the person you’re communicating with can view what content is sent. WhatsApp doesn’t and can’t monitor this content, including GIFs.

    If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to help!
    WhatsApp Support Team
    Take a look at our Help Center!

    This is sadly quite ineffective; as another commenter mentioned, do you think a petition would be a better way forward that would garner public attention and actually lead to action?
    Thanks for the article, really eye-opening, please do follow up with any other actions we can take to keep our children safe.

    • May Allah reward you for following through on our recommended actions.

      I agree with you that this is an unsatisfactory response. WhatsApp have a duty to ensure the content that is accessible in their GIF feature is suitable for children because they have claimed that the app is appropriate for children aged 12+ over.

      We have discussed the idea of a petition internally and have talked about considering to pursue that option if this approach does not lead to any change.

  3. My comment isn’t to do with WhatsApp but it is to do with protecting our children against negative influences from the world of technology such as a new cartoon in Denmark aimed at 4 to 8 year olds about a man with an 8 metre long ‘private part’. According to Holly from This Morning, ‘Each episode tells a tale about John’s penis getting him into trouble and comedy situations’ (such as lighting a barbecue or rescuing a dog from a lake).

    Yesterday, they had two female Danish experts on the ‘children’s use of media’ on their programme defending the cartoon. In the theme song there is a line which is, ‘There is almost nothing that he can’t do with it’. Even more shockingly, instead of stopping this, in the name of gender equality, they are considering creating a female lead character who can do ‘marvellous things with her genitalia’!

    What’s worrying about the West can be highlighted by two things that I picked up on during the interview. Firstly, the cartoon has been ‘approved by layers and layers of directors’ and secondly, despite Holly and Phil warning parents at the beginning that they may want to distract their small children for a few minutes due to the nature of the content of the programme, closer to the end of the interview Holly did say that in Denmark they ‘are much more open’ and have been ‘praised in the past for programming for children that has been very open’ and that ‘in many ways we have a lot to learn from [them]’ but that for people this might be ‘right now just a step too far’.

    Allah Ta’ala refers to two types of people in Surah al-Fatiha, those who cause his anger and those who are astray. Whether the corruption within these cartoons or Apps is deliberate or a natural consequence due to people who are astray and therefore on an inevitable downward spiral morally, as Muslims in the West we put far too much energy and time into standing shoulder to shoulder with them, feeling proud when we are the cause of any success here, whether it’s to do with science and technology or helping to remove social ills such as poverty and illness through charity work. Yet we are loathe to stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in our Muslim lands, using our God given talents and knowledge to improve our societies in which we will have greater control over our technology and the moral well-being of our children.

    The Muslim ummah has lost a lot of men in the last 10-20 years: men of vision and action. I feel sorry for the new Muslims and the new practising Muslims. You missed out and our standards have dropped. According to Jordan Peterson (who many of you like listening to) between the ages of around 16-25 years, testosterone levels in males increase (which is responsible for ‘aggression’ or maybe more accurately ‘dominance’) and so does creativity (and the criminality curve matches the creativity curve). I feel really disappointed by the Muslim men of my age group who are at the supposed age of wisdom. Instead of directing and harnessing the creativity, strength and energy of our youth, they are hell-bent on pacifying it and seem to have solutions that centre around nothing more than ‘spreading awareness’ through social media, even though many of our current issues have been discussed by world leaders at the United Nations!

  4. Whatsapp also includes messaging from radicals. Who wants their kid to go to ‘Jihad’ in Syria?

    All tech has potential for good and ill.

    • Forhad Miah – why don’t you just use your real name? It’s pathetic the way you lot troll Muslim sites. #GetaLife

      • Umm Uthman, according to the BBC, of the estimated 900 people who have left the UK for Syria to join violent Islamist groups, 20% have died, 40% have returned to the UK, and 40% are still in the region. How many have died from watching porn? Shouldn’t we focus on all the issues around internet safety?

  5. AA would it not be better to send a signed petition to each of these companies and also the government, to ensure overall compliance.

    Also there is no way to disable your children to install or access online games, chats, which is especially worrying in these times when they’re accessing gadgets for school learning and the temptation is too great, they keep finding a way to play games – and I agree, I have seen totally inappropriate ads pop-up which are even in cartoon form, so obviously it’s for the kids but not appropriate even for adults.

    This lack of morality is getting worse, and it’s being targeted at children. You are right we need to take a stronger stance – why has the wrath of Allah come in this form of the pandemic? We need to mend our ways and not just go with the flow.

    • A petition is an excellent idea and that is certainly a consideration if the set of actions that we have outlined prove to be ineffective.

      There are ways to prevent other dangers from being accessed by children and this could be the basis of another article.

  6. Aisha Siddiqui

    Asalamu alaykum

    JazakAllah Kher for the excellent article. Is there absolutely nothing we can do for Samsung devices?

  7. It also contains smileys of sodomite transgender transsexuals or lgb whatever nonsense they call it to promote freaks of nature

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Send this to a friend