WhatsApp to take legal action against spammers ahead of payments launch

From December, those engaging in certain types of automated or bulk messaging could face legal action from the messaging platform.

WhatsApp has revealed it will begin to take legal action against people using its platform for spam messages.

In an update to the messaging app’s FAQ section, WhatsApp confirmed the crackdown will start on 7 December.

The company said: “WhatsApp will take legal action against those we determine are engaged in or assisting others in abuse that violates our terms of service.”

WhatsApp also warned that legal action could be taken “based on information solely available to us off our platform”.

These violations include “automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use”, which leaves room for WhatsApp to license particular tools for businesses who use the messaging platform to communicate with customers.

The company currently offers a free WhatsApp Business app which allows small firms to automate, sort and respond to messages.

Uber uses the service to put drivers in contact with support staff, while Booking.com uses it to share booking confirmations and other updates with customers.

The announcement comes as the Facebook-owned company aims to grow the messaging platform into one that can handle payments too, with a team of developers working on payments features in London.

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that WhatsApp mobile payments would be launching this year after a successful test phase for the feature in India.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a press conference in Paris on May 23, 2018
Image:Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced plans for WhatsApp payments

Speaking at the F8 developer conference, he said he believed “it should be as easy to send money to someone as it is to send a photo” – but the financial world is far more regulated than image messaging is.

Confirming plans for the payments platform, Matt Idema, the chief operating officer at WhatsApp told Sky News: “We’re eager to work with some of the best technical and operational experts in both London and Dublin to take WhatsApp into its second decade.

“WhatsApp is a truly global service and these teams will help us provide WhatsApp payments and other great features for our users everywhere.”

Earlier this year, Facebook announced that Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp were all being brought under one umbrella earlier this year.

The integration of the three platforms would see the company combine its data collection from hundreds of millions of users around the world.

It is believed this would potentially allow Facebook to introduce a payments feature, helping the company to generate the kind of revenues seen from Chinese apps such as WeChat.

That app is so widely used in China that street market stalls and buskers use it for trade, and alongside its rival AliPay it comprises a market worth of $9tn (£7tn) in 2016, according to Research Consulting Group.

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