Sending too many messages on WhatsApp? You could be in huge trouble

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A man poses with a smartphone in front of displayed Whatsapp logo in this illustration September 14, 2017 (Dado Ruvic/YouTube)

WhatsApp is the go-to app for all sorts of communications, ranging from instant messaging to voice calls and even video calls, serving over a billion users globally. On the downside, it is also the platform severely marred by the spread of fake news, hoaxes and provocative content. In order to curb illegal activities, WhatsApp has taken several measures, but the latest one trumps all in terms of severity.

In an FAQ document titled "Unauthorized usage of WhatsApp," the Facebook-owned messaging app warns users against activities that violate the company's Terms of Service. WhatsApp's latest effort to curb the spread of fake news, hoaxes and provocative messages is to sue those engaged in such activities.

WhatsApp warns individuals and companies from sending bulk or automated messages, and against non-personal use. Those who are found in contempt will face legal action from WhatsApp, which is backed by the multi-billion-dollar company, Facebook.

"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," WhatsApp said in its FAQ document.

WhatsApp also stated that the FAQ serves as a notice to take legal action against companies violating its terms and conditions. Although there's no clarity on the type of legal action WhatsApp is going to take against potential violators, it appears to be far more stringent than the current consequences, which go to the extent of blocking the users. The company claims it removes 2 million accounts involved in bulk messaging each month.

WhatsApp has robust machine learning systems to detect illegal activities on its platforms, so companies or individuals using tools to bypass WhatsApp's limitation on forwarding messages to more than five contacts at once will be identified. WhatsApp's limitations to bulk messaging wasn't quite effective as Reuters reported during the India Lok Sabha elections that some marketing agencies used tools costing Rs 900 to bypass the forward limit set by the app.

It appears that the continuation of such violations prompted WhatsApp to take legal action, which will be in full effect in December.