WhatsApp, one of the most popular chat platforms across the globe has been permanently banning user accounts for being part of suspicious groups. Users have taken to social media to post about how their accounts were deleted for being part of groups with suspicious names.
WhatsApp users have said on Reddit that their accounts were deleted without any prior information. A Reddit user, Mowe11, posted that he faced permanent ban because a person changed the name of the group to an abusive name. Later in the day, the entire group, including him, was banned from the platform. When they tried to contact WhatsApp over this, all of them received an automatic response saying that they had violated company’s rules.
Another Reddit user etrec89 said that a group of 50 people was permanently banned because someone changed the name of the group to a malicious one. While this change lasted for not more than one minute, the entire group was banned. Another Reddit user said the same happened to his school group with more than 100 members.
WhatsApp said, “To protect the privacy and security of our users, WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can see the content of messages. To help prevent sharing of child exploitative imagery (CEI), WhatsApp relies on all available unencrypted information including user reports to detect and prevent this kind of abuse.”
Among the available unencrypted information is the factor of group names, which, if flagged by WhatsApp’s machine learning algorithms, will lead to its users being banned from the platform.
1. Make sure your funny WhatsApp group name does not qualify as insensitive. In everyone’s best interests, browse through WhatsApp’s security blog, and ensure that your usage of WhatsApp complies with the fair usage rules that the company has disclosed publicly.
2. If you are an admin: Ensure that only you or co-admins of the group have the ability to alter a group’s details, so that users with nefarious intentions cannot tweak the information and put your and your fellow users’ accounts at risk. To do so, tap on the group name, go to Group settings, tap on Edit group info, and select Admins only.
3. If you are a user: Be sure to be careful about who can add you to groups, and which groups are you being added to. To filter this, open WhatsApp and head to Settings, tap on Account, select Privacy, access Groups and select ‘My contacts except…’. Using this, you can selectively allow a trusted few to add you to groups. Apart from them, every other group request will come to you as a private message, which gives an overview of the group you are being added to, including group name, image, and group participants. The feature allows you to verify whether you recognise the group as something you’re willing to be added to, and act accordingly.
As of now, if you have been banned from WhatsApp because of this reason, you can appeal your ban to WhatsApp through the app itself by submitting proof that your group was not based on child sexual abuse. Alternately, you can head to WhatsApp’s official help channels and write to them for more assistance on the matter.