WhatsApp may now go after the users of its app if it finds them abusing it for sending bulk messages or for auto forwarding. So far, the only action the messaging app would take is to remove the account. In a new move, the company says it will go ahead and sue the account holder for such violation of the terms and conditions of using the app. It is as yet not clear as to how exactly the legal action would be proceeded against, except that this new regime will come into effect from December 7 this year.
The change in the approach towards rogue accounts has come to light from an entry appearing in the FAQ section of WhatsApp, under the heading Unauthorised Usage of WhatsApp. The exact wordings are as below:
"Beginning on December 7, 2019, 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".
As mentioned, the details of this legal action are not known. Will it be country-specific? Will WhatsApp open a legal cell in each country it operates in to file these cases or to send the legal notices? These may be revealed later.
This step by WhatsApp appears to be a fallout of a white paper that it published early this year in which its stand on users resorting to bulk messages and automated behaviour was described and some of the steps it proposes to take against such violations of the terms of usage of WhatsApp. In that document, it was mentioned, that accounts could get banned at the time of registration, during messaging and also based on complaints from other users. WhatsApp has mentioned in the white paper that is has machine learning systems in place to detect such accounts.
Interestingly, WhatsApp claims it removes millions of accounts every month for these excesses.