Spam messages, infamous for flooding the SMS platforms, have now become a new menace on instant messaging platform WhatsApp. 95 per cent of Indians confirmed receiving spam or promotional messages on WhatsApp, findings of the latest survey conducted by the social media platform LocalCircles revealed.
The survey received over 57,000 responses from citizens located in 373 districts of India. It had 62 per cent of respondents as men, while 38 per cent of respondents were women. 45 per cent of respondents were from tier-1 cities, 32 per cent from tier-2 and 23 per cent from tier-3, -4, and rural areas.
It further showed that one in every two Indians receives four or more promotional messages on WhatsApp every day. 22 per cent, nearly one in every five, confirmed that they receive over 8 such messages.
“51 per cent of the citizens are receiving 4 or more promotional or spam messages on their WhatsApp despite the provision to report spam or block numbers,” the survey said.
All the respondents (100 per cent), on the other hand, revealed that they receive spam and promotional messages through SMS daily.
SMS messages should “not be confused with communication from government or any other authorized source” and it “is a misuse of citizens’ personal data”, the survey said.
68 per cent of the respondents said that they receive over 4 spam messages through SMS. It was followed by 51 per cent of respondents facing similar problems with WhatsApp.
“There have been media reports over the last few months that the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has decided to levy fines ranging from Rs 1,000 per violation for 0-10 breaches, Rs 5,000 each for 10-50 violations, and Rs 10,000 each for more than 50 violations by registered telemarketers,” it added.
However, no official notification has been issued in this regard.
In 2021,WhatsApp made it mandatory for its users to receive messages from WhatsApp Business.
“While users resisted this initially and started using alternate platforms like Signal and Telegram, over time most gave up and accepted the revised terms,” the survey said. The messages were based on the usage of WhatsApp and data from Facebook.
The highest number of promotional messages received on WhatsApp was about selling real estate, financial services and providing healthcare services.
To put an end to spam messages, 77 per cent of the people said that the telcos and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) must work to embed a “Mark Spam” option in the messages to make it easier for the users to report.
“While TRAI can’t do much to address WhatsApp spam, 77 per cent of mobile subscribers want it to work with telcos and enable a Report Spam feature within the SMS as the current reporting mechanisms aren’t found to be user friendly. Then there is a need for strong action to be taken against spammers once people report them,” the report added.