ISIS Urges Its Supporters To Avoid Using WhatsApp

A pro-ISIS group on Telegram recommends that supporters use eight other "encrypted and secure" apps

Apr 07, 2016 at 5:23 AM ET

A pro-ISIS group on the messaging app Telegram has called on the terror group’s supporters to avoid using WhatsApp, even after the tech company this week unveiled end-to-end encryption.

The new instructions were published on Telegram by the Islamic State’s “Information Security” group, which is known for providing encryption and information security advice to ISIS members and sympathizers. “Do you think WhatsApp will become secure?” the group asked in a post, which Vocativ uncovered early on Thursday. It answers: “Definitely not.”

The post states that ISIS supporters shouldn’t use WhatsApp since Facebook, which owns it, is known for “collecting metadata in their servers in order to learn the behavior of individuals and add this information to Facebook’s site.” The channel instead recommends that ISIS loyalists use eight other “encrypted and secure” apps: Telegram (for “private messages”), Silent Text, ChatSecure, Linphone, Signal, Wickr, MyENIGMA and Surespot.

At least a few of them, including Surespot and Wickr, are already used by ISIS supporters.

The call to avoid WhatsApp came after the company’s CEO, Jan Koum, announced this week that the company unrolled end-to-end encryption: “The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us,” he wrote.

But the Islamic State doesn’t seem to trust it—the latest indicator that they’re wary of online communications. Last month, after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for carrying out deadly terror attacks in Brussels, the same “Information Security” Telegram group that posted this week’s warning urged ISIS supporters in a late March post to “stay away from using Internet unless you are using encryption Software.”