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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

WhatsApp reportedly banning groups with suspicious, malicious names

WhatsApp users have reported being banned from the platform for being participants in groups with suspicious or malicious names.

tech Updated: Nov 08, 2019 18:34 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
WhatsApp permanent ban.
WhatsApp permanent ban.(WhatsApp)
         

WhatsApp is reportedly banning users who are participants of groups with illegal names or subjects. WhatsApp groups with names which denote illegal activities are getting banned on the messaging platform. As a result, each member of that said group is banned from WhatsApp.

The first instance of this WhatsApp ban was reported by Reddit user Mowe11 who said that he was banned after his university group’s name was changed to ‘Child’s Pornography’. Each member of this said group was banned from WhatsApp without any prior notice. On contacting WhatsApp, these users received automatic responses saying that they’ve violated the rules of the messaging app.

After a week of banning the user WhatsApp restored their account but without any clarification. More users reported of similar incidents happening to their WhatsApp accounts. This one WhatsApp group with around 50 participants was banned after they had changed the group name to a ‘disgusting’ one. The group name was changed at noon and all members were banned from WhatsApp the same night. WhatsApp restored the accounts of these users after a ban period of 27 days.

The ban notice for these groups comes as a big surprise as WhatsApp is a private messaging app. Also, WhatsApp messages are protected with end-to-end encryption which messages aren’t being read. WhatsApp does have ban notices like temporary ban for users who are on unauthorised apps. WhatsApp also bans accounts if the account activity is in violation of the company’s Terms of Service. But this is mostly related to WhatsApp Business accounts.

The new ban practice could be an automated process on WhatsApp’s side which detects such activities through metadata. WABetaInfo explains, “Probably this is the only way that WhatsApp can use to detect malicious groups, seen that chats and calls are end-to-end encrypted and they cannot see the content of the group, so they see its metadata (group date creation, group subject, group description etc..).”