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WhatsApp Will Take Legal Action Against Automated or Bulk Messaging

Messaging platform WhatsApp this week announced plans to take legal action against individuals and companies that abuse the platform for bulk messaging.

Messaging platform WhatsApp this week announced plans to take legal action against individuals and companies that abuse the platform for bulk messaging.

The Facebook-owned platform’s Terms of Service already prohibit automated or bulk messaging, as WhatsApp says it wasn’t designed for such use, although it does provide companies with the WhatsApp Business app and the WhatsApp Business API to help them manage customer interactions.

In a whitepaper (PDF) published at the beginning of the year, the platform provided information on its ability to identify and ban accounts, which helps it keep users safe from abuse.

The on-platform information available within WhatsApp has already allowed Facebook to find and stop millions of abusive accounts from operating on the service, the company says.

Nonetheless, there are companies that attempt to evade WhatsApp’s machine learning systems, despite Facebook’s efforts to improve them.

According to WhatsApp, stopping abuse is a challenge that requires a holistic approach, but the platform is committed to using the necessary resources against those that violate its Terms of Service, such as automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use.

The company’s efforts will also involve taking legal action against individuals or companies linked to on-platform evidence of such abuse.

Starting December 7, 2019, WhatsApp will also take legal action against those determined to be “engaged in or assisting others in abuse that violates our Terms of Service, such as automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use, even if that determination is based on information solely available to us off our platform,” WhatsApp says.

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Such off-platform information would include public claims from companies about their ability to leverage WhatsApp in such manners that violate the company’s policies.

“This serves as notice that we will take legal action against companies for which we only have off-platform evidence of abuse if that abuse continues beyond December 7, 2019, or if those companies are linked to on-platform evidence of abuse before that date,” WhatsApp also says.

The platform will continue to use its right to enforce rules through technology, including banning accounts based on machine-learning classifiers.

However, the platform will continue to offer the WhatsApp Business app and WhatsApp Business API to provide companies with the ability to communicate with their customers.

Related: WhatsApp Sues Israeli Firm NSO Over Cyberespionage

Related: WhatsApp Vulnerability Exploited to Spy on Users

Related: WhatsApp Fights Fake News With Message Forwarding Limit

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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