Web Desk: WhatsApp has blocked and removed over 1,30,000 accounts in 10 days recently in a bid to clamp down on people sharing child pornography. The company removed the accounts after using AI tools it found that the accounts were probably indulged in illegal activities.
In addition to the blocking and removing the accounts WhatsApp has also shared the information related to these accounts with the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the US so that if law enforcement agencies need relevant information in investigating child pornography they can get.
WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted, which means the company cannot look into what people are sharing. But its engineering apps are now using AI-based tools, which can look at the unencrypted information such as profile photos, group profile photos, and group information to flag off potential abusers.
WhatsApp is also using a technique called PhotoDNA, which is also used by Facebook to identify porn and abusive images, to identify WhatsApp groups or users who could be potentially sharing child porn.
The company says zero tolerance for people who misuse its app. “WhatsApp has a zero-tolerance policy around child sexual abuse. We deploy our most advanced technology, including artificial intelligence to scan profile photos and actively ban accounts suspected of sharing this vile content. We also respond to law enforcement requests in India and around the world. Sadly, because both app stores and communications services are being misused to spread abusive content, technology companies must work together to stop it,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.
The company also responded to the reports of how WhatsApp users were finding child porn through third-party apps that allowed them to look for WhatsApp groups. It says that WhatsApp does not provide any search feature for groups.
However, it is important to note that while WhatsApp is taking measures to limit how one can look groups on the chat app, it has yet to address a long-standing complaint from users related to how anyone can add any WhatsApp users to a group. If someone has a user’s number, not only that user can be added to a WhatsApp group without his or her permission but can also be automatically made the group admin if the original admin leaves.