WhatsApp now a spam factory, 1 in 2 Indian swamped with promotional messages: report

WhatsApp now a spam factory, 1 in 2 Indian swamped with promotional messages: report
Meta-owned WhatsApp has become a spam factory as more than one in two Indians now say that they are facing four or more spam messages each day, a report showed on Wednesday.

Despite clear norms laid by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on unsolicited communication, consumers still face unwanted calls, SMS (short messaging services) and Whatsapp messages from vendors, telemarketers, banks, insurance brokers, car dealers, pathology labs, property and other investment agents, among others.

About 68 per cent of mobile subscribers, on average, receive 4 or more promotional or spam SMSs every day with every subscriber surveyed getting spam, according to the online community platform LocalCircles.

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About 95 per cent of Whatsapp subscribers surveyed got spam while every mobile subscriber surveyed got it.

Financial services, real estate services, and pathology services are the top sectors sending spam SMS as well as spam Whatsapp, indicating the same offenders are now spamming using both channels.


About 77 per cent of mobile subscribers surveyed want the TRAI to work with telcos and enable a mark spam feature with each SMS.

There were reports that the Department of Telecommunication (DOT) has decided to levy fines ranging from Rs 1,000 per violation for zero-10 breaches, Rs 5,000 each for 10-50 violations, and Rs 10,000 each for more than 50 violations by registered telemarketers.

However, the telecom authority has not issued any notification in this regard.

"Unsolicited SMS, not to be confused with communication from government or any other authorised source, is a misuse of citizens' personal data. Many people face issues of unwanted messages and calls made to them by fraudsters, spammers, telemarketers, despite registering on TRAI's Do Not Call Registry (NDNS)," the findings showed.

Last year, around 93 million phone numbers registered with the TRAI's NDNS were kept on sale on the Darknet, according to reports.

Whatsapp Business was rolled out a few years ago and in 2021, the company mandated that users of the platform must receive messages from Whatsapp Business (based on their usage of Whatsapp and parent platform Facebook) for them to continue using the platform, according to LocalCircles report.

While users resisted this initially and started using alternate platforms like Signal and Telegram, over time most gave up and accepted the revised terms.

About 77 per cent said that TRAI should work with telcos to mandatorily embed mark spam in each SMS message so users can easily report spammers.

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