WhatsApp can also be thought of as a “walled garden” for a generation that’s too old to keep up with the vastness, complexity, and fast-moving pace of the wider internet. As such, just as WhatsApp is both an entry point for social media and internet use, it can also a bubble.
Part of the problem lies in how WhatsApp is structured and how it works as its biggest strength—end-to-end encryption on messages—is also its key weakness. The platform has admitted to struggling with finding ways to detect and manage the flow and impact of misinformation. WhatsApp’s potential as a tool for misinformation is further amplified by its sheer popularity: it’s the most popular messaging app across several African countries, including Nigeria. Local telecoms operators have also created WhatsApp-only data bundles for users.