Instant messaging platform WhatsApp on Wednesday said it banned 36.77 lakh accounts in India in December, marginally lower than the number of accounts it barred in the preceding month. The banned WhatsApp accounts in India include 13.89 lakh accounts which were barred proactively before being flagged by users.
In November, WhatsApp banned 37.16 lakh accounts in the country, including 9.9 lakh accounts which were barred proactively.
“Between December 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022, 3,677,000 WhatsApp accounts were banned. 1,389,000 of these accounts were proactively banned, before any reports from users,” WhatsApp said in its India Monthly Report for December published under the Information Technology Rules 2021.
The tougher IT rules, which came into effect last year, mandate large digital platforms (with over 50 lakh users) to publish compliance reports every month, mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken.
Big social media firms have drawn flak in the past over hate speech, misinformation and fake news circulating on their platforms. Concerns have been flagged by some quarters time and again over digital platforms acting arbitrarily in pulling down content, and ‘de-platforming’ users.
The government last week announced three grievances appeal committees that will handle user’s complaints against the large social media companies from March 1.
WhatsApp users appeal in December jumped by about 70 percent to 1607, including appeal to ban 1,459 accounts, compared to 946 complaints in November.
The instant messaging firm took action only on 166 appeals.
WhatsApp said it responds 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 it is banned or a previously banned account is restored, as a result of a complaint, the report said.
In addition to responding to and actioning on user complaints through the grievance channel, WhatsApp deploys tools and resources to prevent harmful behaviour on the platform, the report said.