WhatsApp might be taking action against groups with malicious name. According to a report, users of the Facebook-owned WhatsApp are reporting about being banned from the service. The ban is reportedly being imposed on people belonging to certain group having malicious name. The first instance of such a ban appeared on Reddit, where the user Mowe11 published details of the ban imposed by WhatsApp. In the post, Mowe11 explained that a person, who was a participant of his group, changed his university’s group name to something illegal.
This, according to the post, became the reason for ban of the entire group. He has also confirmed that all members belonging to that group got banned. The post notes that this is the third time that a user did that. FranciscoAlfaro, user Reddit user was in a group of his school with about 100 participants. He claims that all members were mysteriously banned without any reason. In another report by PiTiXX, the user claims that he was banned from using WhatsApp because his friend changed the group name to a malicious user name.
According to WABetaInfo, all user accounts were suspended in this case. There is also a tweet from a user who claims to have been banned for being part of a group with a name that resembled illegal thing. When these users tried to reach WhatsApp, they received an automatic reply that explained the terms for their ban. The automated reply states that these users violated WhatsApp’s Terms of Service and that they won’t reply again. The reply suggests that if someone is wrongly banned, they cannot do anything. There is also no way to get any assistance in such a case.
Those banned from the platform are claiming that they are forced to change their phone number and have lost chat history. The ban seems to be enforced from server side and users cannot know how WhatsApp detects who should be banned from the service. However, it does seem to affect old groups or groups with lots of participants and a malicious group name. We have reached out to WhatsApp to understand how it is enforcing ban on its users. The measure could be a way to limit the spread of misinformation in group with large number of participants. If you are a group admin then use the new Group Info Restriction feature. This will limit others from changing the group information.