WhatsApp blocked 2 million Indian accounts in 1 month for sending bulk, harmful texts at scale

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New Delhi: Facebook-owned messaging and calling application WhatsApp blocked at least two million Indian accounts during the one month period, from May 15-June 15. The company made the revelation in its maiden monthly compliance report as mandated by the IT rules. The new IT rules require large digital platforms, with over five million users, to publish compliance reports every month, mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken.

The company clarified that of the total accounts blocked by it, over 95 per cent of accounts were banned due to unauthorised use of automated or bulk messaging (spam). “Our top focus is preventing accounts from sending harmful or unwanted messages at scale. We expect to publish subsequent editions of the report 30-45 days after the reporting period to allow sufficient time for data collection and validation,” WhatsApp said in the report.

The company added that the number of accounts banned has risen significantly since 2019 due to the tightening of curbs. About eight million accounts get banned by the company globally on an average per month. 

WhatsApp said besides behavioural signals from accounts, it relies on available ‘unencrypted information’ including user reports, profile photos, group photos and descriptions as well as advanced AI tools and resources to detect and prevent abuse on its platform. In the report, WhatsApp said it had received 345 reports in total, cutting across categories such as ban appeal, account support, product support, safety issues and others.

Majority of users who reach out to WhatsApp are either aiming to have their account restored following an action to ban them or reaching out for product or account support, it added.

‘Accounts Actioned’ denotes reports where WhatsApp took remedial action based on the report. Taking action denotes either banning an account or a previously banned account being restored as a result of the complaint.

The IT rules — which came into effect on May 26 — mandate that significant digital platforms include the number of specific communication links or parts of information they proactively remove by using automated tools.

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