Texting app WhatsApp officials said political parties are not using the stage in the way that was proposed and cautioned them that it will ban accounts in the keep running up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections if necessary.
Whatsapp Official Warns Indian Political Parties Not To Spread Fake News
In India, Whatsapp is having more than 230 million base monthly active users.
“We have seen a number of (political) parties attempt to use WhatsApp in ways that was not intended and our firm message to them is using it in that way will result in bans,” said Carl Woog, head of communications at WhatsApp, during a media briefing in New Delhi on Wednesday.
“Over the last several months we have engaged with political parties to explain our firm view that WhatsApp is not a broadcast platform; it is not a place to send messages at scale; and to explain to them that we will be banning accounts that engage in automated bot behaviour and we do this regardless of the purpose of this account. We are trying to maintain the private nature of our platform,” added Woog.
WhatsApp also released a white paper titled “Stopping abuse: How WhatsApp fights bulk messaging and automated behavior” on Wednesday and said its best need is to battle automated behavior on the service. All around, the organization has removed more than 2 million accounts every month for as far back as three, by virtue of mass or automated conduct. It has a worldwide client base of 1.5 billion. The organization said it had informed the Election Commission of India and state election commissions about its preparations for the elections.
The Facebook-claimed platform has experienced harsh criticism, in India and somewhere else, for engendering the spread of Fake News. In India, such as a few occurrences of lynching a year ago have been credited to counterfeit messages about criminals or cow dealers doing the rounds of WhatsApp. The issue was sufficiently huge for the Indian government to look for a reaction from WhatsApp, and for the messaging platform to take out full-page advertisements, and set up measures, such as, naming sent content and limiting the number of forwards to five.
“We have also engaged with numerous political parties to ensure they are aware of our terms of service and that attempting to send bulk messages on WhatsApp is not allowed. We will ban accounts engaging in abuse without warning—in most cases it happens automatically,” added a company spokesperson in an emailed response.
“We have built sophisticated machine learning systems to detect abusive behaviour and ban suspicious accounts at registration, during messaging, and in response to user reports…These efforts are particularly important during elections where certain groups may attempt to send messages at scale,” stated the white paper.
The organization said it has been getting ready for the upcoming Lok Sabha election since the Karnataka elections held in May 2018.
“We have been preparing for the India election since the Karnataka vote last year—when we saw a number of parties attempt to abuse WhatsApp,” added the spokesperson.
“At that time we saw how parties tried to reach people over WhatsApp and in some cases that involved attempting to use WhatsApp in a way that it was not intended to be used,” explained Woog.
“As a private communications platform we believe its important to maintain the private nature of our service and to that end one of the top priorities is to fight automated behaviour on WhatsApp to deal with all messaging because that can be a source of click bait, it could also be a source of problematic content for our users,” he added.