WhatsApp banned 2.07 million Indian accounts in August: Details here
The third transparency report published by WhatsApp showed that 2.07 million Indian accounts were banned from the messaging platform this August. Meanwhile, WhatsApp also received 420 user queries through August. These included 222 ban appeals, 105 account support queries, 76 questions relating to the product and other support, and 17 safety-related questions. Of the 222 ban appeals, WhatsApp took action only against 41 accounts.
In July—its first transparency report—WhatsApp revealed India accounted for 25% of the global account bans. Globally, eight million accounts are banned on average every month. Notably, WhatsApp banned 2,011,000 Indian accounts between May 15 and June 15. Again, 3,027,000 accounts were banned between June 16 and July 31. All accounts connected to a phone number starting with +91 are considered to be from India.
WhatsApp has been publishing transparency reports to comply with India's Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. WhatsApp is facing a lot of scrutiny in India, where it has been used to spread fake news and incite violence. Notably, India is WhatsApp's largest market. Earlier this year, the Centre said that WhatsApp had over 500 million users in India.
Users from India account for a large chunk of total WhatsApp accounts, which explains why most blocked accounts are also from India. In July, WhatsApp noted most account bans were over unauthorized automated or bulk messaging. WhatsApp has also limited message forwarding to five numbers to curb misinformation. However, users can still send the same message to more than five people through WhatsApp Groups.
WhatsApp has several tools to prevent harmful behavior, including detection of abuse at three levels—at registration, during messaging, and upon receiving negative feedback like user reports and blocks. WhatsApp analysts look at all these levels to draw conclusions and also to improve WhatsApp's response to abuse. Besides, WhatsApp is partnering with India-based fact-checking organizations as well as India's law enforcement to increase vigilance.