WhatsApp bans over 19 lakh Indian accounts in May

WhatsApp, owned by Meta, banned more than 19 lakh Indian accounts in May based on complaints received from users through its complaints channel and via its own breach prevention and detection mechanism, according to the latest monthly report released by the messaging platform.

New IT rules that came into force last year require major digital platforms (with more than 50 lakh users) to publish compliance reports every month, mentioning details of complaints received and actions taken.

“As reported in the latest monthly report, WhatsApp banned over 1.9 million accounts in the month of May,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.

The user safety report contains details of user complaints received and the corresponding measures taken by WhatsApp, as well as its own preventive actions to combat abuse on the platform, the spokesperson added.

An Indian account is identified via the phone number prefix +91.

According to the report released on Friday, 19.10 lakh Indian accounts were banned by WhatsApp between May 1 and May 31, 2022 using “the abuse detection approach, which also includes action taken on negative feedback received from users. …”

By comparison, the messaging platform had banned more than 16 lakh of Indian user accounts in the month of April and 18.05 lakh of such accounts in March.

“Over the years, we have consistently invested in artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies, data scientists and experts, and processes to keep our users safe on our platform,” added the spokesperson.

No less than 528 complaint reports were received and 24 accounts were “processed” in May 2022. Of the total number of reports received, 303 were for a “ban call”, while others fell into the categories account support, product support, and security, among others.

“We respond to all grievances received, except in cases where a grievance is deemed to be a duplicate of a previous ticket. An account is ‘resolved’ when an account is banned or a previously banned account is restored, at following a complaint,” the report said.

The government is finalizing new social media rules that propose to give users a mechanism to appeal grievances against arbitrary content moderation, inaction or takedown decisions by big tech companies.

Last month, the IT Department released draft rules proposing a government panel to hear user appeals against complaint inaction or content-related decisions by media platform complaints officers. social.

At present, “there is no appeal mechanism provided by intermediaries nor a credible self-regulatory mechanism in place,” the ministry had said.

Major social media companies have drawn attention in the past to hate speech, misinformation and fake news circulating on their platforms. Concerns have also been raised about digital platforms acting arbitrarily by extracting content and “de-platforming” users.

The government notified IT rules last year to make digital intermediaries more accountable for content hosted on their platforms.

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