By Ila Ananya
Today, we came across a scary Twitter thread by a woman whose friend received more than 50 calls in an hour from random strangers asking for phone sex (you can follow the thread here).
Her phone number had been put on to ‘New Friends for WhatsApp’, an app that essentially provides random strangers with a list of numbers they can call when they’re “feeling lonely”. The woman who started the Twitter thread said that the calls were basically for phone sex, and her unsuspecting friend’s number was put on the app under the name of Priya.
A friend’s friend has received 50+ calls in an hour from random strangers.
Apparently, her phone number was put up on an app that promotes..
— WONDER WOMAnu (@AnuBomb) February 24, 2017
New Friends or WhatsApp describes itself as an app that will “bring you a lot of fun and entertainment — for free!” Apparently, it’s for anyone who is tired of always chatting with the same people on WhatsApp. “Would you like to talk to other people?” the app’s description says on Google Play. Never mind that a random stranger else probably doesn’t want to talk to another random stranger.
The features, it says, include browsing many photo options and chatting with many beautiful girls or guys. It reminds us a bit of the infuriating recent reports about phone recharge shops in UP selling women’s numbers to men who came and asked for them.
— arunmcops (@arunmcops) February 24, 2017
It turns out that the comments on the app’s page seem to all be from men (of course, they seem furious because they say that none of the numbers on the app’s register seem to work). The app’s description says, “We’ve got ladies who submitted their numbers to us”, and that the ratio of women’s numbers to men’s numbers is about 60 percent to 40 percent.
Considering that the woman was sexually harassed in this case and hadn’t submitted her number to the app, there’s obviously a completely suspicious way the app gets its numbers that isn’t being indicated. One of the people who replied to the above mentioned thread then found that New Friends for WhatsApp wasn’t the only app like this: There are a whole bunch more, one of which is even blatantly called ‘girls phone numbers’. In each of these apps, who is allowed to submit numbers and how is it regulated?