If you want to know when a particular WhatsApp contact was last active in the app, you only have to take a look at the chat history. The name of the contact indicates when it was last online unless the person concerned has turned off the function for data protection reasons.
By default, WhatsApp is set so that every contact can easily view the status information. The stalking app named ‘Dasta – last seen online’ created by the Russian developer Mitya Shkolov takes advantage of this fact. The program automatically reads the online status of target contacts and displays the usage habits graphically.
Importance of Privacy Settings
In other words, users of this app can permanently monitor other WhatsApp contacts and control when they have been online for how long and how much they have chatted. If you compare the chat habits of two or more users with each other, you could theoretically deduce whether they were in contact with each other. It has long been known that this form of WhatsApp stalking is possible.
The Android app ‘Dasta’ has been downloaded from the Google Play Store more than 100,000 times. According to users, it works as described. However, many complain about the high costs. Accordingly, the free trial version is only valid for one day. The developer then charges a fee from the second monitored contact.
A similar app already existed in 2018
‘Dasta’ is not the first such stalking app for WhatsApp. App developers from Mexico had already demonstrated in 2018 that status tracking is possible. The iOS app ‘ChatWatch’ had functions similar to ‘Dasta’ for Android. However, the ‘ChatWatch’ developers said they didn’t want to make any money, but wanted to make WhatsApp users aware of a problem. Many are not aware of how much information they disclose in the app.
WhatsApp offers users the option to hide their online status. It works like this:
1. Open the settings in the WhatsApp menu.
2. Tap on ‘ Account ‘ then on Privacy.
3. Under ‘ last online ‘ you can now specify who can view the status. It’s best to choose ‘ Nobody ‘.
There is also the possibility to report the ‘Dasta’ app in the Google Play Store as ‘inappropriate’ and to persuade Google to check it. Fraudulent, offensive or illegal apps violate developer guidelines. Data protection violations and dubious in-app sales can also be an exclusion criterion in the Android App Store.
Online stalking is digital violence
In the case of the iOS based predecessor ‘ChatWatch’, Apple also initiated an investigation after media reported about the app. The Android version is still available in the Play Store and so are many other spy apps that can be used to monitor other users’ online activities.
Activists have been trying to draw attention to the problem for years to help victims and to persuade politicians and the judiciary to act harder against users and providers of stalking apps.