WhatsApp banned 17,59,000 accounts registered with an Indian mobile number in the month of November. In its latest compliance report published in January, the Meta-owned chat app said it made the decision to ban accounts using the abuse detection approach, which includes feedback from other users and their appeals via the Report feature in the app.
The compliance reports, released at the beginning of each month, are mandated by the Rule4(1)(d) of India’s Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules implemented in 2021. WhatsApp, in these reports, highlights two things: grievances received from Indian users through different modes of sending grievances, such as email and snail mail, and the accounts that were “actioned” through WhatsApp’s “prevention and detection methods for violating the laws of India or WhatsApp’s Terms of Service.”
In November, WhatsApp received as many as 602 reports from users who had registered with an Indian mobile number. The maximum appeals made by users were to demand a ban on accounts, and the number of which stands at 357. WhatsApp took action on only 36 out of 357 accounts and banned them. The total number of banned accounts, which is 17,59,000, includes these 36 accounts.
Other categories for which the reports were received are “Account support”, “Product support”, and “Safety”, among others. No action was taken for the appeals in these categories, WhatsApp said in its report. The company said that users with reports related to “Safety” are told to use the in-app reporting facility, and the reports received through this method are not “recorded as an action taken.”
Besides, WhatsApp’s abuse detection tools are focused on prevention of harmful behaviour on the platform. To curb that kind of behaviour, abuse detection works at three stages of an account’s lifestyle: at registration, during messaging, and in response to negative feedback. The last one includes the user reports and blocks.
To put it simply, when you block someone and report them, WhatsApp takes cognisance of the activity and puts the user in question under the scanner of its abuse detection. “A team of analysts augments these systems to evaluate edge cases and help improve our effectiveness over time. We will continue to bring more transparency to our work and include more information about our efforts in future reports,” said WhatsApp.