Whatsapp has launched a new feature allowing users to connect to the messaging service using proxies when a direct connection isn’t possible. The feature is meant as an alternative for users to maintain access to the platform in the wake of an internet shutdown.
The platform states that end-to-end encryption will still be active, and no one in between — the proxy server, Whatsapp or Meta will have access to the messages you send. That said, the feature relies on individuals and organisations running independent proxy servers worldwide and will share your IP address with the proxy provider.
Setting up a proxy requires a Docker server that hosts will have to set up themselves. For the rest, Whatsapp has provided a GitHub repository, including everything required to set up an online proxy infrastructure quickly. They can be set up with ports 80, 443 or 5222 and a domain or subdomain that points to the server’s IP address.
Whatsapp recommends sharing these proxy addresses privately with affected users. Another thing to remember is that the current proxy infrastructure released on GitHub only supports messaging, with VoIP support and media upload/download not included in the current release.
The option is only available starting the latest version of the app at the time of writing (version 126.96.36.199 for Android updated December 5, iOS app yet to be updated in India). So you may have to update your Whatsapp before you see these options.
How to use WhatsApp Proxy?
Affected users can follow these steps on their Android or iOS devices to connect to a proxy.
- Tap the three vertical dots in the top right and select Settings.
- Tap Storage and Data, followed by Proxy.
- Select Use Proxy.
- Tap Set Proxy and type the proxy address.
- Tap Save.
Whatsapp will then try to establish a connection to the specified proxy. A successful connection will be indicated with a green check mark. However, if you can’t use Whatsapp even with a proxy, chances are the server has been taken down, and you need to find another one.
While the Whatsapp FAQ page on the subject states that the feature is available on the web and desktop, we couldn’t find any instructions or corresponding settings in the web or desktop apps at the time of writing.