By Press Trust of India | Updated: 1 May 2023
Meta-owned WhatsApp banned over 4.7 million accounts in March, higher than the number of accounts it barred in the preceding month, and it received and complied with three orders from the Grievance Appellate Committee during March.
WhatsApp banned over 4.5 million accounts in February, 2.9 million accounts in January, 3.6 million accounts in December and 3.7 million accounts in November.
The platform disclosed it complied with all three orders received from the newly-constituted Grievance Appellate Committee, between March 1 and March 31, 2023. It, however, did not give further details on this.
The monthly user-safety report contains details of the user complaints received and the corresponding action taken by WhatsApp, as well as WhatsApp’s own preventive actions to combat abuse on the platform.
“As captured in the latest Monthly Report, WhatsApp banned over 4.7 million accounts in the month of March,” according to a WhatsApp spokesperson.
An Indian account is identified via a +91 phone number.
“Between March 1, 2023 and March 31, 2023, 4,715,906 WhatsApp accounts were banned. 1,659,385 of these accounts were proactively banned, before any reports from users,” the report said.
According to the latest report, as many as 4,720 grievance reports were received, and 585 accounts were “actioned” during March.
Of the total reports received, 4316 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.
The IT rules 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 come under fire 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 has launched the much-awaited Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) mechanism, which allows users to appeal against decisions of social media platforms by filing their complaints on a new portal.
The GAC, in effect, is an online dispute resolution mechanism, and users aggrieved by a decision of the Grievance Officer of an intermediary, say Meta or Twitter, can file their appeal or complaint through the new portal.