There have been several cases recently where WhatsApp users have found themselves banned for being members of suspiciously named groups.
Several posts on Reddit now discuss how people got banned for using inappropriate group names that are suggestive of child pornography.
Though most users emphasised that the nomenclature had been a joke, WhatsApp is not amused. The issue is a part of the bigger fight against child exploitation that WhatsApp has undertaken.
On its website, the social media app writes, "WhatsApp has a zero-tolerance policy around child sexual abuse. We ban users from WhatsApp if we become aware they are sharing content that exploits or endangers children. We also report tips to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which plays an important role in helping victims of abuse."
Over the last three months, the app has banned approximately 250,000 accounts each month for suspected sharing of child exploitative imagery. In such a situation, here are a few things you can do to continue being able to access WhatsApp:
1. Be careful that your humorous group name is really that. What might simply be meant as a joke can get you blocked if it comes across as insensitive or offensive. Please make sure that your WhatsApp usage is in compliance with the company's guidelines. Perusal of their security blog can be of help here.
2. If you're the admit of a group, please make sure that only you (or a select few members of the group) have the ability to modify group details. This will help ensure that mischief-makers cannot tamper with the same and endanger the members of the group. Simply go to the 'Group Settings' and then tap 'Edit group info' before selecting 'Admins only' to change the settings.
3. For all other users, please take note of groups that you're a part of. If you don't wish to be added to groups without your permission WhatsApp's new feature can enable you to select exactly who can add you to a group. Simply go to the 'Settings' section of your app and then tap Account > Privacy > Groups and select one of three options: “Everyone,” “My Contacts,” or “My Contacts Except”. With the third option, you can ensure that anyone outside of a select few has to send you a personal invite that you can accept if you wish to.
4. If you've already been banned, you can appeal to WhatsApp via the app by submitting proof that your group is not based on or encouraging child sexual abuse. You can also write to WhatsApp through their official channels and seek assistance.