WhatsApp banned over 24 million accounts in India in the past one year

Meta-owned messaging service, WhatsApp, has banned over 24 million accounts in India over the past one year. Data published in the service’s latest transparency report for India for June this year stated that the company banned over 2.2 million accounts in the month, with bans occurring through its automatic flagging of spam and abusive accounts as well as user reports.

Transparency reports detailing actions taken by companies on user accounts and government requests were required to be published under the Indian government’s revised information technology and social media intermediary rules published last year, formally known as the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

WhatsApp’s latest report for June this year also added that it received 632 user reports related to account support, bans, product support, safety and others — 64 of which were acted upon by the platform.

The Meta-owned service had over 480 million monthly active users (MAUs) in India as of January this year, making it one of the most popular apps in use in the country right now.

Fellow social media platform Twitter, which also publishes regular monthly transparency reports in India, has a reported 23.6 million MAUs in the country as of January this year, as per market research firm Statista. According to the former’s data over the past one year, Twitter has banned close to half a million users in India — based on its proactive monitoring of sexual content, nudity, child abuse and terrorism content on the platform.

India’s new IT Rules, 2021 made it mandatory for social media platforms with over 5 million MAUs in India to appoint a nodal contact officer, a chief compliance officer and a grievance redressal officer in the country, to continue leveraging the safeguard of being a social media intermediary in India.

While the nodal contact officer was assigned to be the point of contact for the Indian government with the respective company, the compliance officer was required to ensure compliance with government data and takedown requests issued to platforms. The grievance officer, meanwhile, was tasked with responding to user requests within a stipulated time period, failing which a user was liable to move the Indian judiciary against the respective company.

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