WhatsApp has confirmed that as many 2 million user accounts in India were banned on the instant messaging platform last month. 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 messaging. 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.
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.