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WhatsApp Revises Community Guidelines in Fight Against Spam and Abuses

By: Shouvik Das


Last Updated: June 11, 2019, 14:26 IST

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

WhatsApp's latest whitepaper highlights its latest strategies that will attempt to prevent misuse of communication tools.

Continuing efforts to improve sanctity of the platform on the back of allegations, Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp today published a new whitepaper detailing its efforts against users that violate its community guidelines.

The whitepaper particularly highlights WhatsApp's efforts against spam messaging and bulk group creators on the platform, underlining December 7, 2019 as a deadline beyond which the company will take legal actions against those that continue to abuse its platform.

In a public FAQ shared by the company, WhatsApp states that it primarily sees itself as a private messaging service, disclosing that over 90 percent of all messages sent on the platform are private messages. This form of messaging requires both sender and recipient to be validated users on the platform, with a verified number registered to the service.

Explaining how it detects such violations, the WhatsApp whitepaper states, "An account that registered five minutes before attempting to send 100 messages in 15 seconds is almost certain to be engaged in abuse, as is an account that attempts to quickly create dozens of groups or add thousands of users to a series of existing groups. We ban these accounts immediately and automatically. In less-obvious situations, a new account might message dozens of recipients who do not have the sender’s account in their contacts. This could be the beginning of a spam attack, or it could be an innocent user simply telling their contacts about a new phone number. In these cases, we consider historical information (for instance, how suspicious their registration was) in order to separate abnormal — but innocuous — user behavior. In sum, our detection systems evaluate hundreds of factors to shut down abuse."

According to WhatsApp, these senders are more often than not new users without recent usage history, and engage in sending of spam links, that also contribute to the spread of fake news and misinformation -- an issue that WhatsApp is particularly sensitive about.

While WhatsApp already uses its AI and machine learning algorithms to ban such accounts (the whitepaper claims to have banned 2 million such accounts lately), it will soon start taking legal action against such users. WhatsApp states, "Beginning on December 7, 2019, WhatsApp will take legal action against those we determine are engaged in or assisting others in abuse that violates our Terms of Service, such as automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use, even if that determination is based on information solely available to us off our platform."

WhatsApp will also take into account claims of spam against these users, even if the claims are made outside the platform, but involve WhatsApp in some way. The actions against spamming on WhatsApp are already active.