Instant messaging platform WhatsApp is implementing a 24-hour ban for any users accessing its service via a third-party app.
WhatsApp Plus was released in 2012, but a spokesman for the official version said using unauthorised software could allow personal data to be leaked.
WhatsApp recently reported membership figures of 700 million and confirmed that the number of messages sent each day exceeds 30 billion. However, WhatsApp Plus has also proven popular considering its lack of authenticity, and has been downloaded 35 million times. Its main selling point is that it offers users additional ways to customise their WhatsApp conversations through extra colour schemes and more flexible file options.
According to the BBC, a moderator of WhatsApp Plus’ developer community confirmed that the service is on hold for the foreseeable future.
"We have received a cease and desist letter from WhatsApp and we are obligated to remove all download links and unfortunately delete this community," he wrote.
WhatsApp has posted a warning on its official site urging users not to use unauthorised software – a message backed by the firm’s parent company Facebook. The 24-hour ban for anyone who is using WhatsApp Plus has been implemented to deter users from violating the app’s terms and conditions.
The rise in popularity of WhatsApp Plus and similar unofficial software relates to the larger question of unauthorised app stores, which often contain apps that are not regulated by the likes of Google and Apple.
Dr Joss Wright from the Oxford Internet Institute believes that consumers should be wary of the kind of third-party app stores offering WhatsApp Plus.
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"There are levels of quality control that are implemented by Google, which withdraws apps that are detected as being not completely legitimate, and indeed by Apple, which is incredibly restrictive about what it allows on the iOS store. Such apps could bring with them security bugs."