WhatsApp is a topical application. For all the benefits it brings to us – i.e faster and less expensive communication- there are a number of issues that have arisen. The biggest problem is fake news but there are some other side effects such as addiction and negative effects on human relationships.
WhatsApp has a section on their website where they have outlined how users can be more responsible when using the chat application. Though some of the tips are more obvious than others, common sense is rarely common and having these habits written down is vital:
How to Responsibly Use WhatsApp
WhatsApp was built as a simple, secure and reliable way to message other people. Messaging is by its nature private and our Terms of Service are designed to help keep our platform and our users safe. People have asked us for help understanding how to use WhatsApp responsibly, so we’ve developed these guidelines to help ensure users have a good experience on WhatsApp. All users of WhatsApp, including government entities, political parties, and candidates for office, should follow these rules when using WhatsApp. For more information on how WhatsApp prevents abuse of automated and bulk messaging, read here.
Best Practices for Use of WhatsApp
Private communication by design: Users should manage their own accounts for one-on-one chats and small group conversations.
Gain people’s permission: Messages should only be sent to people who have contacted you first or have requested you contact them via WhatsApp. It’s best to give people your phone number so they can message you first. If people provide their phone number, message them in ways they would expect. For example, explain who you are, and how you got their phone number.
Respect people’s choices: If a user asks you to stop messaging them, you should remove the user from your address book and refrain from contacting them again. You should get permission from people before you add them to a group. If you add someone to a group and they remove themselves, please honor that decision.
Use Group controls: We’ve created an “Admin Only” messaging setting for groups — so if you create a group, you can decide who can send messages within it. Using this feature can help cut down unwanted messages in groups.
Think twice before forwarding: We have affixed a label to all forwarded messages to encourage people to think before sharing.
Practices to Avoid
Unwanted, automated, or bulk messages: Don’t try to bulk message, auto-message or auto-dial using WhatsApp. WhatsApp uses both machine learning technology and reports from users to detect and ban accounts sending unwanted messages. This includes the systematic contacting of users in ways they may not want. Also, don’t create accounts or groups in unauthorized or automated ways.
Use contact lists that are not yours: Never share phone numbers without people’s consent or use data obtained from illicit sources (by buying lists of phone numbers for example) to message users on WhatsApp or add them to groups.
Over-use broadcast lists: Messages sent using a broadcast list will only be received when users have added your phone number to their contact list. That said, the frequent use of broadcast messages may lead people to report your messages. We block accounts that are reported multiple times.
Violate our Terms of Service: As a reminder, the Terms of Service prohibit, amongst other things, publishing falsehoods and engaging in illegal, threatening, intimidating, hateful, and racially or ethnically offensive behavior. The Terms of Service define your contractual relationship with WhatsApp, and the Terms of Service take precedence to the extent there is any conflict with this document.
As I said before, some of this stuff seems simple enough but in all honesty, we’ve seen ourselves being added to groups or on broadcast lists without our consent and from time to time we receive spam messages on WhatsApp. Hell, from time to time we are the ones guilty of this behaviour.
These are simple things that need to change if WhatsApp is going to offer a better experience and fortunately WhatsApp is taking some of the control back. It was recently confirmed that WhatsApp users will now be able to actually able to refuse to enter a group if they are not interested which will come as good news to anyone who has been added to a group they didn’t want to be in.