To comply with the information technology (IT) rules in India, the social messaging platform WhatsApp has banned more than 23 lakh accounts in India from August 1, 2022 to August 31, 2022. Releasing its October 2022 ‘User Safety Report’ the Meta-owned platform said that as many as 2,328,000 accounts were banned in India. Of this, “1,008,000 accounts were proactively banned before any reports from users.” 

WhatsApp has more than 400 million users in India. The 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 its platform.

The social messaging platform said that it received 598 grievance reports, of which action has been taken against 19 accounts. As many as 449 reports pertained to ban appeal, whereas 14 reports cited safety concerns for banning the accounts. 

WhatsApp said in a statement, “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.”

WhatsApp banned over 23.87 lakh accounts, the highest so far this year, in July. In April, May and June, WhatsApp banned 16.6 lakh accounts, over 19 lakh accounts and 22 lakh accounts, respectively. In March, WhatsApp banned over 18 lakh accounts. 

"We employ a team of engineers, data scientists, analysts, researchers, and experts in law enforcement, online safety, and technology developments to oversee these efforts. We enable users to block contacts and to report problematic content and contacts to us from inside the app. We pay close attention to user feedback and engage with specialists in stemming misinformation, promoting cybersecurity, and preserving election integrity," WhatsApp had said earlier.

“Over the years, we have consistently invested in state-of-the-art technology, artificial intelligence, data scientists, experts, and processes, to support user safety," it added.

As per the new IT rules, which were introduced by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) last year, the social media platforms with more than 50 million users are mandated to publish a monthly compliance report. The compliance report must mention the complaints received and the action taken by the social media platforms. 

The rules were introduced amidst the privacy concerns of the users’ data as well as the circulation of hate speech, misinformation and fake news across the social media platforms. While Meta-owned Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp have complied with the rules, Twitter has been at loggerheads with the Indian government over the IT Rules. 

Meanwhile, taking a tough stance against the infringement of users’ privacy, the government is also likely to introduce the revised Data Protection Bill soon.

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