In the last few weeks, Indian users have reported a massive surge in incoming international spam calls on WhatsApp. Several users have complained about getting multiple calls and messages with country codes belonging to Indonesia (+62), Vietnam (+84), Malaysia (+60), Kenya (+254) and Ethiopia (+251). Acknowledging the issue, the Meta-owned platform on Thursday announced that it is deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning- based systems to curb the incidents of spam and “weed out bad-actors” from the platform.
WhatsApp in its official statement said, “We have ramped up our AI & ML systems… Our new enforcement will reduce the current calling rate by at least 50 per cent and we expect to be able to control the current incidence effectively. We will continue to work relentlessly towards ensuring a safe experience for our users.”
The announcement from WhatsApp followed the recent call out from the Indian government over the issue. The IT ministry said that digital platforms must ensure the safety of “digital nagriks” and are accountable for any alleged misuse or breach of users’ privacy. The ministry also said that the government would address every such instance.
Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Tuesday told journalists that spam calls on WhatsApp were a concern for the government. “The Ministry is taking note of it, they will send them (WhatsApp) a notice,” he said.
The minister also wondered how scammers and spammers were getting the numbers of India whatsApp users. “How are they able to identify which numbers are on WhatsApp? Are they doing it blindly? Is it some database they have got? If there is a database it is a violation of privacy, or if not are they are doing it through a bot (by) sending messages to random numbers. (This) is certainly something platforms will be asked to look at,” he said.
In response to the Indian government’s concerns, WhatsApp said that it would deploy artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) systems to weed out spam and find out scammers. These systems can identify spam messages and block them before they reach users.
WhatsApp says it is using AI to identify spam messages. AI systems can learn to identify patterns in spam messages, such as the use of certain keywords or phrases. This allows WhatsApp to block spam messages before they reach users.
The company says that the ML or machine learning system will help the platform improve the accuracy of its spam filtering system. ML systems can learn from past data to improve their accuracy over time. This means that WhatsApp’s spam filtering system will better identify spam messages as more data is collected.
In addition to the AI and ML system, WhatsApp is also taking other steps to address spam. These steps include:
- Educating users about spam: WhatsApp is working to educate users about spam messages and how to identify them.
- Making it easier to report spam: WhatsApp has made it easier for users to report spam messages. Users can now report spam messages directly from the app.
- Improving the spam filtering system: WhatsApp is constantly improving its spam filtering system. This includes using AI and ML to identify spam messages more accurately.
Earlier in a statement to India today WhatsApp revealed that “blocking and Reporting suspicious messages/calls is an important step to effectively combat scams and when users receive calls from unknown international or domestic phone numbers, WhatsApp provides a convenient way to block and report suspicious accounts.”
Users can report any number by opening the chat of the number> tap more > report or block.