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Mysterious black dot message crashes Android and iOS apps

Freezing my Whatsapp.
Freezing my Whatsapp.
A body of text running around the Internet a few days ago put the fear of all things holy into Android users, as it froze—and sometimes crashed—applications with maximum impunity.
Ricci Rox,
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On a Whatsapp group a few days ago, I received a poorly worded message that read: "If you touch this black dot, your Whatsapp will hang and crash." Confident as ever, I touched the black dot, expecting it to do nothing as was usual with such prank messages.

I was wrong. My Whatsapp froze and brought up the Wait/Close option box after a while. Choosing wait had the app back to normal, and choosing close restarted it with no effects.

This message made its way across the Internet over the next 24 hours, with users reporting app freezes/crashes across the board. I tried the message in a number of apps, including Baconreader and Chrome. I also tried editing it in my Notepad app, all to the same effect—although most apps only froze for a few seconds and continued as normal, as opposed to Whatsapp's extreme behavior.

So what exactly was the cause? According to Android developer Vyashole, that particular message contains almost two thousand characters, with the Unicode putting the OS into a state of confusion. Interestingly, rendering the string has no observable effect. The gizmos all begin as soon as you try interacting with it.

Apparently, the text also freezes iPhones, albeit to an unconfirmed degree. I'll run a test on one and update this article with the results later.

Here's the message, for the curious ones:      <⚫

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Ricci Rox
Ricci Rox - Senior Tech Writer - 1848 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2017
I like tech, simple as. Half the time, you can catch me writing snarky sales copy. The rest of the time, I'm either keeping readers abreast with the latest happenings in the mobile tech world or watching football. I worked as both a journo and freelance content writer for a couple of years before joining the Notebookcheck team in 2017. Feel free to shoot me some questions on Twitter or Reddit if it so tickles thine fancy.
contact me via: @riccirox, LinkedIn
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2018 05 > Mysterious black dot message crashes Android and iOS apps
Ricci Rox, 2018-05-11 (Update: 2018-05-11)