Is WhatsApp Becoming A Danger for Our Families?

As WhatsApp rolls out the new ‘Channels’ feature, we republish a letter that was sent to and published a number of months ago, raising grave concerns regarding the new addition.

By An Anonymous Bochur

WhatsApp is a vital tool that many Chabad people use, including bochurim. It allows us to stay in touch with our families, friends, shluchim, and rabbonim in a convenient and secure way. WhatsApp was always considered relatively clean and kosher, compared to other social media platforms that are full of inappropriate content and distractions.

However, this may soon change with the introduction of WhatsApp Channels, a new feature that will allow users to follow people and organizations that matter to them in a separate tab called Updates. WhatsApp Channels is a one-way broadcast tool for admins to send text, photos, videos, stickers, and polls to their followers. Users can find and join channels through a searchable directory or invite links sent in chats, email, or posted online.

This sounds a lot like Twitter or any other social media platform, which in no way could be considered kosher. In fact, WhatsApp Channels is specifically made to compete with Twitter and attract more users to its platform. Social media is known to expose users to harmful influences, waste their precious time, and lower their standards of tznius and kedusha. Even if WhatsApp claims that Channels will be private and protected by strong privacy measures, we know that there is no guarantee that the content will be appropriate or beneficial for our neshamos.

I am very concerned about this new feature, since WhatsApp is already downloaded on just about everyone’s devices and people will probably shrug it off without realizing it is a full-on Twitter-like social media. I fear that many of us will be tempted to follow channels that are not in line with our values and mission as Chabad chassidim. I also worry that some of us may create channels that are not suitable for our audience or purpose.

Therefore, I urge all of us to be vigilant and cautious about this new feature. We should not compromise on our standards of communication and information consumption.

One possible solution is to switch to Signal, another chat app that is similar to WhatsApp but does not have the Channels feature. Signal is also much more encrypted and secure than WhatsApp, so we can communicate with more confidence and privacy. Alternatively, we can disable the Updates tab on WhatsApp or limit ourselves to only follow channels that are relevant and kosher for us.

WhatsApp Channels is a threat to kosher communication. We should not let it undermine our commitment to Torah and Chassidus. We should not let it interfere with our connection to Hashem.

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  1. Thank you for posting your concern. Instead of complaining about the threats that WhatsApp will do, just spread Yiddishkeit. The Rebbe specifically said that one should use technology to spread Yiddishkeit. Use WhatsApp new feature to do mivtzoim. Use WhatsApp the way it is. Just ignore the Feed feature.

    1. Would the Rebbe say that we should go into an inappropriate bar to do mivtzoim? Using technology should not be viewed as a wide-open rule to using all technology. In some cases, as in the one being discussed here, using technology can be equivalent to entering such a bar.

    2. A guy once went to the beach with a bunch of tea-shirts and teffilin and when he saw someone jewish he would put the tea-shirt on him and put on teffilin with him. when he was done he sent a bunch of pictures of it to The Rebbe, and The Rebbe responded: “And who gave you permission to go on Mivtzoyim there?”

        1. I personally heard this story as a bochur from Rabbi Kalmenson, brunoy rosh yeshiva, this story occurred in the summer of 5734/1974.He said that they went to a beach resort place and parked in the parking lot, getting 150 tefillin in one hour, and yet the rebbe responded ( after submitting a duch ),”what are bochurim doing in such a place?

    3. While you certainly have a point, it is only true if the user is not absorbing from the technology at all. (For example, the Rebbe unequivocally condemned the use or ownership of television at home, but at the same time allowed and encouraged his farbrengens to be broadcast on the very same [forbidden] platform.)
      So too, with this new feature – or any other – it must be used to spread yiddishkeit, but that does not excuse having it on one’s private device for personal use.

    4. Check out the article in this month’s Neshei chabad news letter from rabbi motti Lipsker on using technology the Rebbe’s view.
      for what the rebbe actually holds not just hafatzah!…
      hatzlacha rabbah gmar chasimah tovah

  2. Thank you to the writer and for bringing this to our attention.

    While we focus on using these tools for good, the Rebbe taught us to be aware of the dangers and protect ourselves, no less than we would like to be aware of physical dangers.

  3. Thank you for this.

    Just to comment that there are already quite number of dangers with WhatsApp; statuses that can be literally anything, chats with diverse people and diverse interests and diverse standards, as well as just in general being forwarded videos not in line with one standards.

  4. Thank you for bringing awareness to being cautious of this new upcoming feature. I want to point out one advantage that Whatsapp still has over some other social media (Twitter, Instagram, etc) – you will only get the Channels which you sign up for. Therefore, you could not subscribe to any of those channels, and retain your focused use of Whatsapp without them popping up in your feed uninvited.

    1. Unfortunately, this is not true.

      Channels automatically puts several influencers right under your status for you to click on (without even joining!)

  5. Thanks for this article, this doesn’t stress enough that till now Whatsapp was also a problem, for many reasons including that many would never dress that way in the street but post such pic’s on status….

    also it’s a problem if Bochrim or Teen girls get smartphones no matter how much it makes their life easier, if it’s wrong and nonkosher a Chassid should have no Kesher with such stuff

    We Chassidm know that Torah & Mitzvos are 100% true and real, how can we give a non married person give up a inch of torah just to make life easier?

    1. Thank you for mentioning this important point. It has unfortunately became the norm that many bochurim have smartphones with whatsapp etc… I wonder what the Rebbe would say about this

  6. The fact is that for the vast majority of people the benefit of having WhatsApp far outweighs certainly at the moment, any possible cons. Therefore The prudent thing to do is not tell everybody to get rid of it but rather to find a means of making proper use of the app well I’m minimizing the negative aspects.
    It is also well to bear in mind that not everything that is new is evil and not everything we can have must we have.

    1. Newspapers are also here to stay

      & the Rebbe said that Bochrim should have no Shaychis to it whatsoever…

      “fact is that for the vast majority of people the benefit of having WhatsApp far outweigh… any possible cons”

      Well is it true? How many hours of screen time does a average Anash have on WhatsApp? If it’s more then a few minutes a day then it’s not for convenience, it’s for “killing time Chas Veshalom”

      this is a call to all Anash, Men Woman Boys and Girls, take out your phone RIGHT NOW, don’t push it off. How many “Group time wasting” chats are you on? is it more then 1? more then 5? more then 10?? How many “news groups” & Loshon Harah groups are you on? how many wasteful statuses are you on?

      No need for anyone to respond, just be real, to yourself, to the Eibeshter, to the Rebbe, Instead of everyone trying to think what the Rebbe would say pro vs. con, we can just look clearly what the Rebbe said about similar time consuming waste of time.

      Instead of using this issue as a means of crying out Ad Masai after 3 Tammuz, let us do the right thing and actually bring prepare the world to greet Moshiach with Torah Mitzvos & proper time usage!

      Thanks and I hope I didn’t hurt anyone personally if yes please forgive me.

      1. This is the best comment I’ve ever read on any article on any website. Breath of fresh air. Zeros in straight to the core issue. This is something I’m currently struggling with, I feel that I’m being productive by being up to date with the news and any other “important” information out there. Spending hours and hours on it. But in truth, all this magnum opus of information did not add one iota in my Avodas Hashem.

        1. 💯 💯!! Thanks a yid and 💯 for posting the truth, for sharing what is on your heart….

          Is this the first “Article comment Farbreng…..???

  7. If you don’t actively update your whatsapp, then it won’t update. At least on phones with filters. So if you don’t want this new feature, just don’t update your whatsapp.

  8. Contact WhatsApp and tell them you don’t want the new “Channels” feature – you use it as a messaging app; if you wanted a social media app you would be using something else.

    In settings go to “Help” and submit.

  9. How do you disable updates? I don’t see this option.
    It’s not an option not to update Whatsapp . It just stops working

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