WhatsApp bans over 4.5 million accounts in February

PTI, Apr 1, 2023, 8:10 PM IST

Representative Image (Source: Dreamstime)

New Delhi: Meta-owned WhatsApp banned over 4.5 million accounts in February, notably higher than the number of accounts it barred in the preceding month, the India monthly report of the popular messaging platform showed.

WhatsApp had banned 2.9 million accounts in January, 3.6 million accounts in December and 3.7 million accounts in November.

The user-safety report contains details of the user complaints received and the corresponding action taken by WhatsApp, as well as WhatsApp’s own preventive actions to combat abuse on the platform.

”As captured in the latest monthly report, WhatsApp banned over 4.5 million accounts in the month of February,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.

An Indian account is identified via a +91 phone number.

”Between 1 February, 2023 and 28 February 2023, 4,597,400 WhatsApp accounts were banned. 1,298,000 (1.2 million) of these accounts were proactively banned, before any reports from users,” the report released on Saturday said.

According to the latest report, as many as 2,804 grievance reports were received, and 504 accounts were ”actioned” during February.

Of the total reports received, 2,548 pertained to ‘ban appeal’ while others were in the categories of account support, product support and safety, 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 ‘actioned’ when an account is banned or a previously banned account is restored, as a result of a complaint,” the report said.

The IT rules mandate large digital platforms (with over 50 lakh users) to publish compliance reports every month, mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken.

Big social media firms have drawn flak in the past over hate speech, misinformation, and fake news circulating on their platforms.

Concerns have been flagged by some quarters time and again over digital platforms acting arbitrarily in pulling down content, and ‘de-platforming’ users.

The government has launched the much-awaited Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) mechanism, that allows users to appeal against decisions of social media platforms by filing their complaints on a new portal.

The GAC, in effect, is an online dispute resolution mechanism, and users aggrieved by a decision of the Grievance Officer of an intermediary, say Meta or Twitter, can file their appeal or complaint through the new portal https://gac.gov.in.

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