WhatsApp is taking legal action against users who send too many messages, the Facebook-owned instant messaging platform company has said in an updated .
While WhatsApp could ban users from the platform for contravening WhatApp terms and services, the move to take legal action is another step in WhatsApp efforts to crackdown on fake news.
The move by WhatsApp to take legal action is even more crucial if recent Reuters Institute survey of English-language Indian internet users is to be taken seriously. The survey found that 52 percent of respondents got news via WhatsApp.
The same proportion said they got their news from Facebook. However, content shared via WhatsApp has led to murder. Notably, BBC in its April 2019 article called WhatsApp, the ‘black hole’ of fake news in India’s election.
In 2018, the instant messaging service had introduced a “Forward” tag on such messages after WhatsApp came under fire after unverified forwarded messages were linked to fake news led to killing of over 20 people in mob violence.
WhatsApp, which has over 1.5 billion active users, updated its FAQ section that announced that from December 07, 2019, the company could take legal proceedings against any user for activities like “bulk or automated messaging”.
The Mark Zuckerberg-led company reiterated that its platform is meant for private messaging or for organisations to interact with customers through its Business app, and spam messages won’t be tolerated.
This will also let WhatsApp effectively control as to how users utilise its platform.
Moreover, the company has also stepped up its efforts in “identifying accounts” that misuse the platform, aiding it in banning two million accounts globally per month, the company spokesperson was quoted as saying in The Independent.
The update can be seen on WhatsApp’s page on “unauthorised usage of WhatsApp” which says that the Facebook-owned company is “committed to reinforcing the private nature of our platform and keeping users safe from abuse” and it will use leave no stone unturned to put a stop to abuse of its terms of service.
“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,” the information page says.
With this, WhatsApp has officially issued a warning that it could also start legal proceedings even if it is based on “information solely available to us off our platform”.
Earlier in 2019, the instant messaging had also released a white paper that warned of automated and spam messages being used to publish what it deemed as “problematic content”.
Alluding to the allegations on influencing voters, it said this should be stopped as it is “particularly important during elections where certain groups may attempt to send messages at scale”.
Earlier this year, the company confirmed it would be limiting the number of times users can forward any single message to five in an attempt to stop false information spreading on the platform.