Popular social media app Whatsapp says it has banned 2 million accounts citing the unauthorised use of automated or bulk messaging and spamming users.
In its first transparency report, the messaging platform, published under the new Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, said it had banned 20,11,000 accounts in this one-month period to try and prevent harmful behaviour.
The Facebook-owned messaging platform identified Indian accounts with a +91 country code of the mobile number used to register. In its report, WhatsApp shared that the global average is about 8 million accounts banned per month, adding that India alone accounts for 25 per cent of all the accounts banned in the world.
The first edition of Whatsapp’s intermediary guidelines report published on Thursday highlighted the company’s focus on preventing accounts from sending harmful or unwanted messages at scale. More than 95% of the accounts are banned because of unauthorized use of automated or bulk messaging, the company said on Thursday. The compliance report will be published every 30-45 days from now on.
The company also revealed the mechanism it has put in place to improve users’ experience while preventing its platform from being used for abuse and harassment.
“The abuse detection operates at three stages of an account’s lifestyle, at registration, during messaging, and in response to negative feedback, which we receive in the form of user reports and blocks. A team of analysts augments these systems to evaluate edge cases and help improve our effectiveness over time,” Whatsapp said in its report.
“In addition to the behavioural signals from accounts, we rely on available unencrypted information including user reports, profile photos, and group photos and descriptions, besides deploying advanced AI tools and resources to detect and prevent abuse on our platform,” it further added.
As per Whatsapp, it received a total of 345 requests during the period, which includes 70 accounts for queries, 204 appeals for the ban, out of which it took action on 63, 20 for other support, 43 for product support, and 8 for “safety issues”.
The messaging platform also added that the number of banned accounts has increased remarkably since 2019, stating that their system is sophisticated in catching accounts that attempt to send bulk or automated messages.
However, the platform did not disclose how many information requests it received from the government. It is worth noting that Whatsapp is fighting a case against the Indian government over the traceability clause in the new IT rules, which requires the platform to trace the first originator of a message within the country.
The report by Whatsapp came after the Indian government enforced new IT rules that mandated significant social media intermediaries, defined as any intermediary with more than 5 million users in India, to publish monthly compliance reports in compliance with the laws.