WhatsApp threatens to sue users who break rules - even on different platforms

By Rhona Shennan
Wednesday, 12 June, 2019, 08:48
The new rules come into effect in December this year (Photo: Shutterstock)

WhatsApp has revealed that it will begin taking legal action against users and companies that violate their terms and conditions - even if the breach takes place outside of the messaging platform.

WhatsApp can already issue users with a ban if they’re found to be breaking their rules, but now the company is looking to take things a step further.

On the frequently asked questions page of the WhatsApp website, the “Unauthorized usage of WhatsApp” section reveals how WhatsApp plans to deal with users breaking the rules.

“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,” the web page states.

Actions such as “automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use” are cited as examples of violating WhatsApp’s rules.

The FAQ page then goes on to say that legal action can still be taken against users, even if the information that shows the user breaking the rules is found elsewhere and not on the WhatsApp platform.

WhatsApp said, “Even if that determination [of breaking the rules] is based on information solely available to us off our platform.”

Legal action?

WhatsApp said, “In addition to technological enforcement, we also take legal action against individuals or companies that we link to on-platform evidence of such abuse. WhatsApp reserves its right to continue taking legal action in such circumstances.”

The move appears to target people who use bots on their platform. You’ll be able to avoid legal action by not employing the use of bots or spamming other users.

While WhatsApp does not explain how it would access the off-platform information it refers to in its guidelines, the fact that Facebook owns WhatsApp (as well as other social media platforms) means that access to users behavior spans the internet.

WhatsApp also said, “Nothing in this announcement limits WhatsApp's right to enforce its Terms using technology, such as banning accounts based on machine-learning classifiers, and WhatsApp will continue to do so.”

This article originally appeared on our sister site Sunderland Echo