How to change WhatsApp group settings: Police warning as children sent explicit and racist content

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Several children have been sent sexual violence and racist content on WhatsApp - sparking a police warning.

Parents and guardians have been told to check the group WhatsApp settings on children’s phones after 11-year-olds in Gloucestershire were sent the explicit messages.

Officers have been told that children in the county have been automatically added to a group without their knowledge or permission.

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A police statement said: “Once in the group, which has an American phone number prefix, they are encouraged to add everyone in their contacts and are then sent upsetting sexually violent and racist content. Group members are then warned that if they leave the chat, they will be found.”

Police have asked parents whose children use WhatsApp to check the settings on the messaging app so that they cannot be added to groups by strangers.

The default setting in WhatsApp allows anyone to add a number to a group chat without needing permission. To disable this, go to WhatsApp and follow these steps:

  • Go to Settings
  • > Privacy
  • > Groups
  • > Under 'who can add me to groups', select ‘My contacts’

Parents are also advised to talk to their children and advise them not to view the chat if they have been added to the group and to block, delete and report the group to WhatsApp immediately.