Parents urged to check WhatsApp settings after children exposed to adult content

A number of 11 year olds were exposed to sexual violence and racist content after being added to a group chat without their permission. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

Parents in Gloucestershire are being urged to check their children's WhatsApp settings after children were exposed to sexual violence and racist content.

A number of 11-year-olds were automatically added to a group chat without their knowledge or permission.

According to Gloucestershire Police, 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 are now asking parents whose children use WhatsApp to check the settings on the messaging app so that they cannot be added to groups by unknown third parties.

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.