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Data: WhatsApp Banned More Than 6.9 Crore Accounts in The Last Two Years


The IT Rules of 2021, mandate big technology companies or the SSMIs to publish a monthly compliance report which includes the details of complaints from users via grievance mechanism and action taken on them, including data on any proactive action. Data from the last 24 months indicates that more than 6.9 crore accounts were banned by WhatsApp out of which 1.53 crore were proactively banned.

In the previous story, we analysed the trends in the grievances received by SSMIs including WhatsApp, Twitter, Koo and Google, as per data provided in their monthly compliance reports. 

In this second part, we review the trends in grievances of other SSMIs – Meta, ShareChat & Snapchat. We will also analyse other information published in these grievance reports including – ban appeals, proactive action along with platform specific reports submitted by few these SSMIs. 

The data for this story is sourced from datasets available on Dataful compiled from the compliance reports published by SSMIs. 

Declining trends of Grievances resolved through tools provided by Facebook 

Compliance reports published by Meta includes data for Facebook as well as Instagram. 

Facebook: During the period June 2021 to May 2023, Facebook received around 48.9 thousand grievance reports through their Indian Grievances mechanism. In the recent months, there is an exponential increase in the number of grievance reports received. In March 2023, more than 7 thousand grievance reports were received, which was more than four times the previous month. This number more than doubled in May 2023 with 16.9 thousand grievance reports. 

While the number of grievance reports has increased, there is fall in the proportion of these reports being resolved. One of the means of resolving the grievances reported are the tools provided to the users by the platform.  These tools include pre-established channels to report content for specific violations, self-remediation flows where they can download their data, avenues to address account hacked issues etc. While the number of such grievances resolved have increased, their proportion comparted to the reports received is on a decline. In May 2023, 14% of the grievances reported were resolved through automated tools. During the initial months it was around 75%-80% on average. 

Apart from the grievances resolved via tools provided by Facebook, there are certain grievances which needs specialized review by the platform itself.  As of May 2023, around 63% of the grievances reported needed specialised review. Out of these 30.7 thousand reports, only about 6.7 thousand were actioned. There are various reasons as mentioned in the image below for the reports not actioned even after specialised review. 

A major portion of the grievances received on Facebook are about “Inappropriate or Abusive Content” and “Bullying or Harassment” 

Instagram: Nearly 1.17 lakh grievance reports were received by Instagram, with a proportionally higher number of reports since December 2022. The highest number of reports received in a month was in January 2023. After a decline in the ensuing months, the number of grievance reports increased to 16.2 thousand in May 2023. Even in the case of Instagram, “Inappropriate or Abusive Content” and “Bullying or Harassment” are the main reasons for raising grievances. 

Akin to Facebook, Instagram also provides users with tools to resolve their grievances. While there is an increase in the number of reports resolved through the tools provided, there is a general decline in the proportion of grievances resolved compared to the ones received.  Around 68% of the grievances reported i.e., 79.8 thousand reports required specialised review by Instagram. Of these, 29.1 thousand were actioned and the rest not actioned.  

It ought to be noted that both in case of Facebook and Instagram, irrespective of the grievance reports being actioned (via tools & specialised review) or not actioned, nearly 100% of the reports were responded to. 

On Snapchat, most reports received were of Harassment while highest actioned was for Sexually explicit content

Snapchat is an Instant messaging app. As per the data provided in their compliance reports, about 28.8 lakh content and accounts were reported between the period June 2021 and May 2023. The monthly report of Snapshot does not provide separate numbers for content reported and accounts reported.  However, in case of action taken, it is reported separately. During this period, a total of 4.62 lakh content pieces is enforced by Snapchat. The report also does not define what Snapchat means as enforced. Further, 3.41 lakh unique accounts were enforced by Snapchat. 

Harassment and Bullying is the topmost category under which grievances were reported by the users. This is followed by Impersonation and Sexually Explicit Content. These three categories account for 75% of the content and accounts reported on the platform. In case of action taken, Sexually Explicit Content is the category where most reports were enforced. This category accounts for 59% of the content enforced and 52% of the unique accounts enforced by Snapchat. 

ShareChat: ShareChat is an Indian Social networking platform which allows user-generated content creation on its platform. It reported that a total of 11.9 crore user complaints were received between June 2021 and May 2023.  Most of the complaints received were related to abusive language. 

6.94 crores accounts banned by WhatsApp 

The compliance reports updated by SSMIs also include information on the accounts that were banned. WhatsApp, Snapchat, ShareChat and Twitter are the 4 SSMIs that have updated this information. 

As per the data provided by WhatsApp, a total of 6.94 crore accounts were banned during this period. The reasons for banning an account is not specified by WhatsApp. Data indicates around 3-fold increase in the number accounts that were banned in May 2023 compared to that of May-June 2022. In May 2023, around 64 lakh accounts were banned by WhatsApp. 

In the case of Snapchat, there is no specific trend. Nearly 27 thousand Snapchat accounts were deleted during July 2021 to May 2023. As per data provided by Twitter, around 1.4 thousand accounts were suspended based on the grievances received. Out of these, suspension of 177 accounts were overturned. 

In case of ShareChat, around 39 lakh accounts were banned. Out of these, 13.56 lakh accounts were banned for a period of 360 days. Around 2.42 lakh accounts were banned for a period of 30 days. Banning of editing profile remains the highest type of ban imposed by ShareChat with 11.63 lakh bans of such nature. 

Spam, Graphic content, Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity are the categories under which content was proactively actioned on Meta Platforms 

Apart from the user complaints, SSMIs have also taken proactive action on the content and activity of the users. Collated information on proactive action of SSMIs can be found on Dataful

Here is a snapshot of the major trends relating to proactive action. 

  • 49.8 million unique content relating to Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity was actioned proactively on Facebook, this is more than 493 million in case of Spam. The Average Proactive rate of Facebook is around 93%. 
  • Instagram also has a higher proportion of content relating to Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity that has been proactively actioned. Content related to Suicide & Self-injury and Child Exploitation are also high on the list of content proactively actioned by Instagram. 
  • 59.4 lakh Twitter accounts were actively suspended by Twitter with relation to Child Sexual Exploitation. Another 80.9 thousand accounts were proactively suspended for Promotion of Terrorism. 
  • WhatsApp has proactively banned 1.53 crore accounts before any reports from users. 

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HR professional, now focused on contributing towards a positive change in the society. Passionate reader. Loves writing and photography and to narrate stories through words and pictures.

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