Now it’s bracing for India’s upcoming national elections, the biggest in the world.
WhatsApp is deploying artificial intelligence to clean up its platform ahead of the elections, in which more than 800 million Indians are eligible to vote. It’s also warning India’s political parties against spreading politically-motivated spam messages.
WhatsApp’s automated systems helped it ban more than 6 million accounts globally in the last three months. The systems monitor and flag suspicious behavior like bulk registrations of similar accounts and users that send a high volume of messages in a short amount of time.
“These efforts are particularly important during elections where certain groups may attempt to send messages at scale,” WhatsApp said.
The company has also warned Indian political parties that their accounts could be blocked if they try to abuse the platform during the campaign.
“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,” spokesperson Carl Woog told reporters in New Delhi, referring to a recent Indian state election.
“We have engaged with political parties to explain our firm view that WhatsApp is not a broadcast platform and is not a place to send messages at scale, and to explain to them that we will be banning accounts that engage in [suspicious] behavior,” he added.
But WhatsApp’s reputation in India, its biggest global market, has been dented by the mob violence and the misinformation spread on its platform.
The company last year attempted to stem fake rumors by labeling messages that are forwarded rather than composed by the sender, and by imposing limits on the number of simultaneous chats a message can be forwarded to.
“The proposed changes are over broad and are not consistent with the strong privacy protections that are important to people everywhere, not just in India but around the world,” Woog said.
“What is contemplated by the rules is not possible today, given the end-to-end encryption that we provide, and it would require us to re-architect WhatsApp, leading to a different product,” he added.