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WhatsApp bans 2 million accounts each month: Here's how they do it

The company's machine learning system is apparently able to catch 20 percent of bad accounts at registration.

Published onFebruary 7, 2019

A WhatsApp app icon closeup on a smartphone.

Spam and fake accounts are two of the more notable problems facing social media and messaging apps right now. But WhatsApp has detailed its progress in the fight against these issues.

According to Venturebeat (via 9to5Mac), WhatsApp executives revealed that the messaging platform bans about two million accounts each month. The executives were speaking at a press briefing in New Delhi.

The company developed a machine learning system to detect and ban accounts engaged in “inappropriate behavior,” the executives said. This behavior includes sending mass messages and creating multiple accounts in order to spread “questionable” content.

The machine learning system has reached a point where it’s able to ban 20 percent of sketchy accounts at the registration phase, the WhatsApp executives said.

What to look for when banning users?

WhatsApp software engineer Matt Jones told the outlet that the system looked at various factors before reaching for the ban hammer. These red flags include IP addresses and phone numbers not matching up to the same market, whether the account is new, and if the account started sending a ton of messages immediately after registration.

Furthermore, the company says 75 percent of the two million accounts banned each month are done without human intervention or a report being filed by users.

Zuckerberg plans to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger by 2020
An image of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg giving a public talk.

Jones says some spammers have also abused the platform by using “special software” to run multiple WhatsApp accounts on one computer. The engineer adds that they also found devices that support “dozens” of SIM cards.

These aren’t the only measures the company has taken in the past year or so, as it’s improved administrator controls, limited forwarding, and introduced suspicious link detection.

What else could WhatsApp do to fight spam and hoaxes? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below!

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