In October 2023, amid the escalating war in Israel and Gaza, we received emails from readers who asked about a viral WhatsApp message that warned photos of "fighting in Jewish settlements" were being shared as (and apparently disguised in) a dangerous file named "Seismic Waves Card." According to the messages, this "Seismic Waves Card" file could purportedly "hack your phone in 10 seconds."
For example, one of our readers asked the following in an email:
This is a WhatsApp message that's been sent around to Israelis for the past two weeks:
Pictures are going to be uploaded of the fighting in Jewish settlements, on WhatsApp.
The file is called Seismic Waves CARD.
Do not open it, it will hack your phone in 10 seconds and cannot be stopped in any way.
Pass the information on to family and friends.
They talked about it on TV.
A cyber attack on us from all kinds of directions isÂ alsoÂ starting.
However, we've researched this same "Seismic Waves Card" rumor before. It's a hoax.
In September 2023, we reported that similar messages were being shared in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in Morocco. The messages claimed that the "Seismic Waves Card" file was being displayed as photos of the earthquake. "This is false," a WhatsApp spokesperson told us via email at the time.
We contacted WhatsApp again about the most recent version of the rumor that mentioned "Jewish settlements" and were told in response to refer to a recent article from NBCNews.com, in which the company again said the viral rumor was false.
Each past iteration of this hoax simply claimed that the "Seismic Waves Card" file was being disguised as pictures of major world events. For example, TechARP.com previously reported that the message was being shared following at least two other earthquakes.
In sum, the warning messages about the card were dubious, there's no record of anyone "on TV" providing any genuine legitimacy to the rumor, and we found no reports of the widespread cyberattack that was mentioned at the end of the message.
Goggin, Ben. “A Viral Warning of a WhatsApp Cyberattack Targeting Jewish People Is Fake, App Says.” NBC News, Oct. 9, 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/misinformation/whatsapp-says-warnings-cyberattack-targeting-jewish-people-are-baseles-rcna119463.
Wong, Adrian. "Can Morocco Earthquake Seismic Wave Card Hack Your Phone?!" TechARP.com, Sept. 12, 2023, https://www.techarp.com/internet/morocco-seismic-wave-card/.