WhatsApp bans over 2 million accounts monthly for spam, platform abuse

    WhatsApp says approximately 90% of the messages sent on the application are from one person to another and majority of groups have less than 10 members.

    By: KUL BHUSHAN
    | Updated on: Feb 06 2019, 16:33 IST
    WhatsApp says it’s not a broadcast platform
    WhatsApp says it’s not a broadcast platform (Bloomberg)
    WhatsApp says it’s not a broadcast platform
    WhatsApp says it’s not a broadcast platform (Bloomberg)

    WhatsApp on Tuesday said it banned over 2 million accounts per month for bulk or automated behaviour over the last three months. Over 75% of accounts were blocked without needing the user report whereas 20% were caught and blocked at the time of registration.

    In a white paper on how it detects and tackles bulk messaging and automated behaviour, WhatsApp said that the app was built for private messaging and not as a broadcast platform. It disclosed that approximately 90% of the messages sent on WhatsApp are from one person to another and that majority of groups have less than 10 members.

    "As with any communications platform, sometimes people attempt to exploit our service. Some may want to distribute click-bait links designed to capture personal information, while others want to promote an idea. Regardless of the intent, automated and bulk messaging violates our terms of service and one of our priorities is to prevent and stop this kind of abuse," said the company in the white paper.

    WhatsApp also explained how it dealt with malicious accounts on its platform.

    At the time of registration, users must verify the account with a temporary code sent via SMS or a phone call. WhatsApp identifies whether the account is in sync with the location of the user by verifying the country code, local network and other related tools. If the account shows suspicious behaviour such as sending bulk messages at a fast rate shortly after the registration, WhatsApp can ban the account.

    ALSO READ: WhatsApp introduces new tool to address fake news, spam

    "Because we ban accounts that send a high volume of messages, coordinated campaigns often try to spread their activity across many different accounts. We therefore work to understand the behavioural cues indicating bulk registrations. For example, our systems can detect if a similar phone number has been recently abused or if the computer network used for registration has been associated with suspicious behaviour. As a result, we're able to detect and ban many accounts before they register — preventing them from sending a single message," WhatsApp added.

    ALSO READ: WhatsApp limits forwarding message to five chats globally

    WhatsApp admitted that the platform gets targeted by accounts that are operated by emulators or machines with an intention to spam users. To deal with this, the company has built detection mechanisms for such automated accounts. For instance, it can identify accounts that continuously send messages without triggering the typing indicator.

     

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    First Published Date: 06 Feb, 16:30 IST
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