Instant messaging service WhatsApp has said political parties are not using the platform in the manner that was intended and warned them that it will ban accounts in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections if needed.

We have seen a number of (political) parties attempt to use WhatsApp in ways that was not intended and our firm message to them is using it in that way will result in bans,” said Carl Woog, head of communications at WhatsApp, during a media briefing in New Delhi on Wednesday.

“Over the last several months we have engaged with political parties to explain our firm view that WhatsApp is not a broadcast platform; it is not a place to send messages at scale; and to explain to them that we will be banning accounts that engage in automated bot behaviour and we do this regardless of the purpose of this account. We are trying to maintain the private nature of our platform,” added Woog.

WhatsApp also released a white paper titled “Stopping abuse: How WhatsApp fights bulk messaging and automated behaviour” on Wednesday and said its top priority is to fight automated behaviour on the service. Globally, the company has removed over 2 million accounts a month for the past three, on account of bulk or automated behaviour. It has a global user base of 1.5 billion. The company said it had briefed the Election Commission of India and state election commissions about its preparations for the election.

“We have built sophisticated machine learning systems to detect abusive behaviour and ban suspicious accounts at registration, during messaging, and in response to user reports…These efforts are particularly important during elections where certain groups may attempt to send messages at scale,” stated the white paper. The company said it has been preparing for the upcoming Lok Sabha election since the Karnataka elections held in May 2018. “We have been preparing for the India election since the Karnataka vote last year—when we saw a number of parties attempt to abuse WhatsApp,” added the spokesperson.

Content Courtesy: Hindustan Times