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Over 23.28 lakh Indian accounts in August, says WhatsApp


Messaging platform WhatsApp on 1 October said that it banned over 23.28 lakh Indian accounts in August, of which over 10 lakh accounts were proactively taken down before any report from users.

Though the number is lower than the level seen in the previous July as over 23.87 lakh Indian accounts were banned by the WhatsApp in July.

“Between 1 August, 2022 and 31 August, 2022, 2,328,000 WhatsApp accounts were banned. 1,008,000 of these accounts were proactively banned, before any reports from users,” WhatsApp said in its monthly compliance report. An Indian account is identified via a 91 phone number.

In June, more than 22 lakh Indian accounts were banned by the messaging platform based on complaints received via its grievance redressal channel and through its own mechanism to detect violations. 

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Earlier in May, it banned 19 lakh such account while 16 lakh accounts were banned in April, and 18.05 lakh in March.

According to the tougher IT rules, which came into effect in 2021, mandate large digital platforms (with over 50 lakh users) to publish compliance reports every month, mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken.

Drawing flak in the past over hate speech, misinformation and fake news circulating on their platforms, big social firms allegedly pulled down content too dur to which it faced criticisms. 

Currently, the government is in the midst of formulating new social media norms which propose to give users a grievance appeal mechanism against arbitrary content moderation, inaction, or takedown decisions of big tech companies.

Latest report says, as many as 598 grievance reports were received, and 19 accounts were “actioned” between 1-31 August, 2022.

Of the total reports received, 449 pertained to ‘ban appeal’ while others were in the categories of account support, product support and safety, among others.

“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,” the report said.

In June, the IT ministry circulated the draft rules that propose a panel to hear user appeals against inaction on complaints made, or against content-related decisions taken by grievance officers of social media platforms.

“At present, there is no appellate mechanism provided by intermediaries nor is there any credible self-regulatory mechanism in place”, the ministry had said.

In 2021, the government had notified IT rules to make digital intermediaries more accountable and responsible for content hosted on their platforms.

In its compliance report, WhatsApp said, “We will continue with the transparency to our work and include information about our efforts in future reports.” 

With PTI inputs. 

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