WhatsApp to sue companies that abuse the platform for bulk messaging

The abuse of WhatsApp Business functions to spam customers will not be tolerated.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

WhatsApp has announced a clampdown on the abuse of business features for bulk messaging with the enforcement of legal action. 

The messaging application is popular with consumers with an estimated 300 million active daily users. The massive user base gave rise to a business opportunity for the Facebook-owned company, leading to the development of the WhatsApp Business app and the WhatsApp Business API. 

WhatsApp's business application and API can be used by businesses large and small to manage customer relationships and communication as well as promote products and discounts. However, having a direct line to consumers can also open up a pathway to abuse.  

In particular, WhatsApp wants to clamp down on bulk and automated messaging -- both of which can be extremely irritating to consumers and are a violation of WhatsApp Terms of Service.

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The company wants to "reinforce the private nature of our platform and keep users safe from abuse," and so, as noted by The Next Web, is now making the consequences of breaking terms of service clear to business operators. 

Millions of accounts have already been barred for abusive behavior (.PDF), but WhatsApp says that some companies are persistent in their attempts to avoid machine learning systems developed to track abuse.

Enough is enough, it seems, and now WhatsApp says it will use legal action starting December 7 against offenders -- whether or not the evidence comes from the platform itself or external sources, which potentially includes customer complaints or reports. 

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"WhatsApp will take legal action against those we determine are 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," the firm says. 

"Nothing in this announcement limits WhatsApp's right to enforce its Terms using technology, such as banning accounts based on machine-learning classifiers, and WhatsApp will continue to do so."

TechRepublic: How to stop spam calls right now

Earlier this week, WhatsApp revealed the end of support for older devices, potentially impacting millions of handset owners. Android phones running versions earlier than 2.3.3, also known as Android Gingerbread, or Apple iOS 8 will not be able to use WhatsApp after February 1, 2020.

Where possible, users should update their mobile operating system. 

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