Popular instant messaging service WhatsApp has launched support for proxy servers in the latest version of its Android and iOS apps, letting users circumvent government-imposed censorship and internet shutdowns.
"Choosing a proxy enables you to connect to WhatsApp through servers set up by volunteers and organizations around the world dedicated to helping people communicate freely," the Meta-owned company said.
Proxies act as an intermediary between end users and the service provider by routing requests originating from a client to the server and forwarding the response back to the device.
Users can access the option by navigating to Settings > Storage and Data > Proxy > Use Proxy and entering a trusted proxy server address.
WhatsApp, which is used by more than two billion users across the world, has also made available a reference implementation that can be used to set up a proxy server to help others connect to the service.
The company emphasized that connecting through a proxy server still guarantees end-to-end encryption (E2EE) protections, and that the message contents will not be accessible to the servers, WhatsApp, or Meta.
"Use of a third-party proxy will share your IP address with the proxy provider," WhatsApp cautions in a Help Center page. "Third-party proxies aren't provided by WhatsApp."
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In September 2022, encrypted messaging tool Signal, which is also blocked in Iran, urged its users to set up proxy servers to help Iranians bypass restrictions and communicate via the platform.