By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, member of the Badatz of Crown Heights
Question: Is one allowed to be on an “entertaining” WhatsApp group where sometimes the Admin shares videos and voice notes that contain Lashon Hora, Harassment to other Yidden, mocking of Rabonim etc.?
Answer: If this is the sole purpose of the WhatsApp group, obviously it is absolutely forbidden.
Even if the WhatsApp group contains other “kosher” entertainment, and one has the practical ability to skip over all the forbidden sections (which needs to be properly determined if this is at all practically possible), one may not rely on one’s self that they will avoid reading or viewing the un-kosher sections, unless this is their only necessary outlet for such “kosher” entertainment.
As a general principle: Wherever one has a choice to avoid situations where they might confront negative thoughts or behaviors, they are obligated to do so according to Halacha. In cases where this is the only method available for them to receive that which they require, then they may use this channel but must avoid doing (viewing, reading etc.) that which is forbidden.
This principle applies also to walking down the street in a place where one knows in advance that they will encounter immodest sights.
Of course, none of this takes into account the serious issue of Bittul Torah, which is a separate matter altogether. We are obviously discussing a case where for whatever reason this issue is not relevant.