Here’s how WhatsApp users can send, receive messages during internet blackouts


Meta-owned WhatsApp rolled out over 20 features, including Communities, improvements to groups, better calling and voice notes, last year and said it would continue to do so in 2023. Along those lines, the instant messaging platform has now launched the first major feature of the year – proxy support – for all WhatsApp users globally.
What is WhatsApp proxy support?
WhatsApp proxy support will enable users to connect to WhatsApp through servers set up by volunteers and organisations to help people communicate freely in situations where the internet is either blocked or disrupted.
“We’re mindful that just as we’ve celebrated the start to 2023 through private texts or calls, there are many people who continue to be denied the ability to reach their loved ones because of internet shutdowns. What this [WhatsApp proxy support] means is we’re putting the power into people’s hands to maintain access to WhatsApp if their connection is blocked or disrupted,” the company said in a blog post.

WhatsApp says that even if users connect via proxy, the platform will provide “high level of privacy and security” and users’ “personal messages will still be protected by end-to-end encryption.” It adds that users’ messages will not be visible to anyone in between, not the proxy servers, WhatsApp, or Meta.
How to use WhatsApp Proxy support
The first step to use WhatsApp in situations where the internet is disrupted or blocked is to find a proxy to use. Users can ask those who have internet access to search through social media or search engines for trusted sources that have created a proxy.
How to connect to a proxy on Android

  • Update WhatsApp to the most current version.
  • Go to the Chats tab, tap More options > Settings.
  • Tap Storage and Data > Proxy.
  • Tap Use Proxy.
  • Tap Set Proxy, enter the proxy address and tap Save.
  • A check mark will show if the connection is successful.

How to connect to a proxy on iPhone

  • Similar to Android, make sure you are using the most current version of WhatsApp.
  • Go to WhatsApp Settings.
  • Tap Storage and Data > Proxy.
  • Tap Use Proxy.
  • Enter the proxy address and tap Save to connect.
  • A check mark will show if the connection is successful.

WhatsApp says that the use of a third-party proxy will share users’ IP addresses with the proxy provider as third-party proxies aren’t provided by WhatsApp.
“If you are still unable to send or receive WhatsApp messages using a proxy, that proxy may have been blocked. You can long-press the blocked proxy address to delete it, then enter a new proxy address to try again,” WhatsApp said.
Why use WhatsApp with proxy
Multiple countries are witnessing internet shutdowns and disruptions. For example, the government in Iran has shut down internet access amid the ongoing protests against the mandatory hijab law. War-torn Ukraine is also reeling under internet disruptions, leaving people with one less way to seek help and communicate with others. WhatsApp proxy can enable people to seek help in such situations.
“Our wish for 2023 is that these internet shutdowns never occur. Disruptions, like we’ve seen in Iran for months on end, deny people’s human rights and cut people off from receiving urgent help. Though in case these shutdowns continue, we hope this solution helps people wherever there is a need for secure and reliable communication,” WhatsApp said.
Elon Musk-owned SpaceX has also provided 100 Starlink satellites in Iran to provide internet connectivity to people.

Internet shutdown in India
Earlier this year, a report published by internet watchdog NetBlocks and VPN service Surfshark said Asia was the most censored continent. It also said that India witnessed as much as 85% of internet shutdowns in the first half of 2022 out of the 10 countries where disruptions and restrictions were recorded.
Recently, a parliamentary panel studying internet bans in India has suggested that the government should explore selective blocking of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Telegram instead of a blanket shutdown of the internet.

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