In India, WhatsApp has a large user base of around 400 million people. As a result, the company has launched a dedicated centre/hub to outline the policies and processes it takes to ensure user safety in India dubbed as ‘Safety in India’. It is available as a standalone portal and highlights the advantages of employing end-to-end encryption and provides information on capabilities like two-step authentication and the option to add a security layer to safeguard WhatsApp communications using fingerprint or face recognition.
“WhatsApp has made significant product changes to help enhance security and privacy. Besides continuous product innovations, over the years we have also consistently invested in state-of-the-art technology, artificial intelligence, data scientists, experts, and in processes, to support user safety” the help centre states.
The ‘Safety in India’ resource centre contains subjects related to internet safety, privacy, and security. It contains information regarding end-to-end encryption, which is touted as a feature that helps safeguard a user’s messages, photographs, videos, voice messages and others.
The resource hub also emphasises Touch ID or Face ID which offers its users the ability to add another layer of security to their accounts. In addition to this, it also highlights forward limits and additional limits to limit forwarding messaging and circulation of fake news through the platform.
It further explains Block and reports a simple way for users to block accounts and make reports to WhatsApp if they encounter problematic messages. Whereas the Message level reporting will allow users to report accounts to WhatsApp by flagging a specific message. Users simply need to long-press a message to either report or block a user.
Other privacy features like disappearing messages, view one, flash calls, admin controls, and end to end encrypted backup have been explained on the ‘Safety in India’ resource hub.
To prevent abuse in India, WhatsApp has built specific Indian processes. A grievance officer has been appointed who can be contacted if a user has a concern about their experience and is unable to report it through other channels. In addition to this WhatsApp regularly releases its monthly report in India that highlights steps taken by us to ensure user safety on WhatsApp.
The Meta owned instant messaging app states that it has zero tolerance for child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and other sexual abuse material.
Also in order to address misinformation, the company also does fact-check which the app and according to WhatsApp in India 10 fact-checking organisations (as of February 2022) help to provide users with the service of verifying information through a WhatsApp bot. They are enabled through the WhatsApp API-platform solution and are accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network. IFCN’s bot is free of cost service. Users can save +1 (727) 2912606 as a contact number and text,”Hi” to get a message or information validated. Alternatively, our users can click http://poy.nu/ifcnbot to access a global directory of fact-checking organisations.
The ‘Safety in India by WhatsApp’ also recommends carefully scrutinising messages that request sensitive information, money or other assistance, even if those messages initially appear to have been sent from known contacts. In such circumstances, it is best to verify that the message was in fact sent from someone known (for example, calling the contact who is the apparent sender and asking them if they’ve sent the request).
Furthermore, the resource hub also gave clarifications on chat leaks. According to the app, end-to-end encryption technology used by WhatsApp helps to keep conversations private between a sender and a receiver for all personal messages in transit within WhatsApp to help protect against WhatsApp and third parties from reading them. In addition to this, it does not store messages once they are delivered or transaction logs of such delivered messages. Undelivered messages are deleted from our servers after 30 days.
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