WhatsApp confirmed on Thursday that it has banned nearly 2 million user accounts in India on the instant messaging platform last month following grievances. This comes as part of the India Monthly Report under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The report released at this time captures the data from May 15 to June 15 this year. WhatsApp says that more than 95% of these 2 million user accounts were banned due to the unauthorized use of automated or bulk spam messages.
WhatsApp also says they received 345 queries from users in India, who used the grievance redressal methods, and of this, 63 accounts were actioned upon—this meant either banning an account or restoring access to a previously banned account.
The news of account bans has left a new kind of meme fest on desi Twitter, where users are expressing their anger over the move. While many are resorting to memes to take a funny jibe at those long WhatsApp forwards, many are trying to sum up the feelings of those whose accounts were banned.
#WhatsApp banned 2 million Indian accounts during May 15-June 15 periodIndian parents seen filing cases on Whatsapp that why their children account is not one of them
— Kamal Nayan Mishra (@iamkamalnayan) July 16, 2021
After WhatsApp banned my account.because Indian govt doesn't have willing to create such type of big social media platform#WhatsApp #selfreliantindia pic.twitter.com/eK8qFifPFF— राघव (@Leftwinn) July 16, 2021
WhatsApp talks in detail, in the report, about the mechanisms in place to tackle abuse on the platform. These are in addition to the complaints received using the redressal mechanisms. The Facebook-owned social media platform says that the abuse detection method works in three stages—during registration, while messaging and in response to negative feedback from user reports and users blocking an account. A team of analysts augment the automated system, to further evaluate cases. WhatsApp also says “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”. Among the total 345 reports received during the month, WhatsApp actioned 63 accounts, while the rest are categorized under multiple categories that didn’t require further actioning—these included users requiring assistance to access account, assistance for one of the features, provide feedback for service or requests for restoration of banned accounts with such requests being denied. All these reports were received using various grievance redressal methods that are in place.