Starting from next month, WhatsApp has said that it will sue those using the app for non-personal reasons. Read on to know more about it…
Starting from next month, Facebook owned WhatsApp revealed that it will go after WhatsApp users if it finds them abusing it for sending bulk messages or for auto forwarding. WhatsApp also said that it will take action against companies sending out bulk messages in violation of its service terms even if such information is available through channels outside the messaging platform.
Until now, the only action taken by WhatsApp is to remove the account of the users. In a new move, WhatsApp said that it will go ahead and sue the account holder for such violation of the terms and conditions of using the WhatsApp app. It is as yet not clear as to how exactly the legal action would be proceeded against, except that this new rule will come into effect from December 7 this year.
With more than 200 million users, India is a key market for WhatsApp.
The change in the approach towards rogue accounts has come to light from an entry appearing in the FAQ section of WhatsApp, under the heading Unauthorised Usage of WhatsApp. The exact wordings are as below:
“Beginning on December 7, 2019, WhatsApp will take legal action against those we determine are engaged in or assisting others in abuse that violates our Terms of Service, such as automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use, even if that determination is based on information solely available to us off our platform”.
Off-platform information would include public claims from companies about their ability to use WhatsApp in violation of the messaging platform’s terms. “This serves as notice that we will take legal action against companies for which we only have off-platform evidence of abuse if that abuse continues beyond December 7, 2019, or if those companies are linked to on-platform evidence of abuse before that date,” WhatsApp said.
As mentioned, the details of this legal action are not known. Will it be country-specific? Will WhatsApp open a legal cell in each country it operates in to file these cases or to send the legal notices? These may be revealed later.
This step by WhatsApp appears to be a fallout of a white paper that it published early this year in which its stand on users resorting to bulk messages and automated behaviour was described and some of the steps it proposes to take against such violations of the terms of usage of WhatsApp. In that document, it was mentioned, that accounts could get banned at the time of registration, during messaging and also based on complaints from other users. WhatsApp has mentioned in the white paper that is has machine learning systems in place to detect such accounts.
In a white paper released in February, WhatsApp said that its abuse detection operates at three stages of an account’s life cycle — at registration, during messaging, and in response to negative feedback that it receives in the form of user reports and blocks.
Interestingly, WhatsApp claims it removes millions of accounts every month for these excesses.