WhatsApp hoax warning linked with Pakistani institution creates panic online

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WhatsApp hoax warning linked with Pakistani institution creates panic online

NITB Cyber Alerts,” reads a Facebook post shared on January 11, 2021 by Facebook page TechRupt, which has more than 100,000 followers.

“A malicious video named " Argentina" is circulating on WhatsApp that shows how the COVID-19 curve is flattening in Argentina. Do not open the link as it hacks your phone in 10 seconds & it cannot be stopped in any way.”

The post features a poster issued by Pakistan's National Information Technology Board (NITB). The title reads: “CYBER SECURITY ALERT.”

Similar posts with the same warning were also shared on Facebook here link, here link and here link and on Twitter here link, here link and here link.

The claim in the posts is misleading. Deleted tweet

A keyword search on Google showed that the NITB removed its warning about the hoax message.

A digital archive of the NITB's tweet can be seen here link the Wayback Machine. [image: an image]Screenshot of NITB’s tweet before it was removed

This article on a blog features includes an embed of the original tweet which is no longer accessible. Global hoax

The same misleading warning message has previously circulated on social media around the world, including in Argentina, Nigeria, the Philippines and the US. *AFP* debunked the message as a hoax.

Nigeria’s National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) dismissed the purported warning, saying it was “aimed at causing panic”.

"The message warns the recipient not to open a video file called "Argentina Is Doing It" as it will hack their phone in 10 seconds,” it said in a Facebook statement on July 18, 2020. "This message has been identified as fake.”