WhatsApp bans: the reasons, how to protect your account and flaws in their systems

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In this article you will find several reasons why WhatsApp bans accounts, protecting their systems and other users’ privacy. We will also learn when this system is broken, my personal opinion and how to protect your WhatsApp account.
This article will also be highly critical, hopefully to see some change a day.

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Common questions Answers
Topic about? Ban System
I was banned from using WhatsApp! Can you unban me? I cannot unban accounts, sorry! If you have been wrongly banned, try contacting the support again and again, explaining the situation in detail. Good luck!
Previous article? WhatsApp beta for Android 2.21.8.10: what’s new?
BAN SYSTEM

There are two different types of ban.

TEMP BAN
A technique to temporarily ban an account. I know they aren’t used to apply a temp ban anymore, or they are so rare nowadays, except for using unauthorized WhatsApp versions.

  • WhatsApp might temporarily ban your account if you’re using an unauthorized WhatsApp version.
    Unauthorized WhatsApp versions, also known as “WhatsApp Mods” on Android, often offer several new features, but your privacy might be compromised: these apps edit WhatsApp, injecting a different code, and we cannot know if this code is dangerous for your privacy and security.
    Using a modded WhatsApp version violates the Terms of Service, so WhatsApp might ban your account when they start a new ban wave. If the user doesn’t switch to the official WhatsApp version from App Store and Google Play Store within a certain amount of time, they will definitely ban your account.
    WhatsApp must protect their product and users, so their action to ban modded versions is absolutely right. Maybe they could act differently, for example preventing the access to modded WhatsApp versions without banning the user, but it’s understandable. Since a few years WhatsApp is trying to convince people to stop using modded WhatsApp versions implementing some features included in those versions.
  • WhatsApp can temporarily ban your account if you create too many groups with people who don’t have your phone number saved in their address book.
  • WhatsApp can temporarily ban your account if you send too many messages to people who don’t have your phone number saved in their address book.
  • WhatsApp can temporarily ban your account if you send too many messages to a broadcast list.
  • WhatsApp could previously ban your account if you send the same message to too many people. WhatsApp cannot read the message content but if the WhatsApp app understands you’re forwarding the same message to too many contacts, you might temporarily be banned. This shouldn’t be active nowadays or it’s so rare, because WhatsApp allows to forward a message to at most 5 contacts, in order to stop spreading fake news.
  • WhatsApp can temporarily ban your account if too many people blocked you in a certain amount of time.

If the user has been temporarily banned several times, he might be permanently banned from using WhatsApp.

PERMANENT BAN
Main reasons why WhatsApp could ban your account:

  • WhatsApp permanently bans accounts that execute bulk or automated actions: they totally violate their Terms of Service because those actions use WhatsApp services without any authorization. WhatsApp bans over 2.5 million accounts per month because of bulk and automated messages.
  • WhatsApp can permanently ban your account if the phone number associated has been used for suspicious actions. This check happens during the registration of the account.
  • WhatsApp bans accounts that use their service intensively, for example if the account sends a lot of messages within a certain amount of time. Don’t worry, WhatsApp introduced a limit that’s really impossible to reach for a human. If an account reached the limit, it means it’s not a human but it’s an automated system.
  • WhatsApp bans all accounts that receive several reports from other users.

WhatsApp advises that they might not issue a warning before banning any account (per their Terms of Service they may retain the right to ban you without any communication) but, if the user thinks his account was banned by mistake, he can email them so they will look into his case.

WhatsApp also bans accounts having suspicious names in their group names.
As mentioned in the article about Apple Privacy Labels for WhatsApp, WhatsApp can view all group names and descriptions, in order to automatically ban all accounts that violate laws (but they aren’t collected for advertisement purposes and these details are not shared with their parent company, Facebook). This is to help WhatsApp to fight child exploitation.

Unfortunately WhatsApp might also wrongly ban your account. Let us show some examples.
Some weeks ago I’ve received a report from a WhatsApp user: he was in a group with other 12 members. A member gave his 6-digit code to another person and he lost his WhatsApp account (what are stolen WhatsApp accounts and why this happens?). This “new member” changed the group name and description: he inserted illegal terms, triggering WhatsApp systems and the entire group has been banned.
These users tried to reach the WhatsApp Support in order to request to be unbanned. WhatsApp declined to unban those accounts, because they violated their Terms of Services.
They kept contacting the support for over 2 months, but nothing new: they always received the same answer or no answer.
I decided to give a voice to this story, sharing it on Twitter. The day after those 13 accounts were unbanned.

I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but it’s weird to think that WhatsApp refused to unban those accounts for 2 months and after my tweet, where I shared the story, everyone was unbanned. They received an answer like this: “Sorry, our systems wrongly flagged your accounts as banned”. Well, what’s changed? Why didn’t WhatsApp notice that it was a false positive before my tweet? What’s changed after 2 months?

A solution to avoid this situation is to open groups where you’re admin > Group Info > Group Settings > Edit Group Info > Only Administrators. This action will prevent any group member to change the group name, description and profile picture so, if someone steals a WhatsApp account of a group member, he cannot edit those information and he cannot trigger their systems.
If you’re a group participant and you’re not an admin, please share this article with the administrator, asking to enable this option.
Be also sure to enable Two Step Verification in WhatsApp Settings > Account.

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This is another story, shared in my Discord Server yesterday:

Hi, I would love very urgent help. My account has been blocked and I have no idea how I can recover it. I got up a week ago in the morning to catch up with my friends and see what’s going on and suddenly I got a message like I’ll send now.

Of course I immediately tried to verify that this was my account but unfortunately I did not succeed. A few minutes later, it appeared to me that my account was blocked and if I wanted to talk to them I could send an email. I sent an email and they have not answered me for almost a week. Today, I finally got the long awaited message. WhatsApp’s message was: “Hi,
Your WhatsApp account has been banned because your activity violated our Terms of Service.
Be aware that we ban accounts if we believe the account activity is in violation of our Terms of Service. Please review the “Acceptable use of our services” section in our Terms of Service carefully to learn more about the appropriate uses of WhatsApp and the activities that violate our Terms of Service.
We might not issue a warning before banning your account. If you think your account was banned by mistake, please respond to this email and we’ll look into your case.
Note: WhatsApp reserves the right to modify, suspend or terminate service for any reason without prior notice, at our sole discretion.
Hamid
WhatsApp Support Team
Take a look at our Help Center! ”
I answered them back and explained to them that I had not committed any offense, I have been using WhatsApp for over 8 years, I am in beta and enjoying every moment. Annie can without WhatsApp, my whole life is inside. So then a few seconds later I got the following message: “Hi,
We have reason to believe your account activity has violated our Terms of Service and decided to keep your account banned. We received a large number of complaints about your account and in order to protect our users’ privacy, we will not disclose the nature of the complaints.
Responses to this email thread will not be read. ”
That is, they are going to leave the blockage. I’m at a loss, I’m desperate. I did not commit any offense. I’m loyal, I’m never breaking rules that should not be done. please help me. All my conversations are there, all the pictures, everything from everything.

I don’t blame the WhatsApp Support, but the way WhatsApp wrongly bans users, how they listen to users. There are a lot of different situations, but refusing to unban seems an obsession.
My questions are:

  1. Why does WhatsApp say that they have reason to believe the account activity has violated their Terms of Service, and they don’t explain what is the reason? Why cannot they disclose the nature of the complains? It’s something about the user, he should know in detail why he cannot use their sevice anymore. They don’t have to mention who reported (if it is not an automatic ban) but why, and if it is an automatic ban, why their systems banned the user.
  2. Why does WhatsApp immediately shut the door in users’ face when they ask for clarifications? Why doesn’t WhatsApp really investigate immediately? I have written an example above about 13 banned users and WhatsApp claimed for over 2 months that they violated their Terms of Service, but it wasn’t true.
  3. Is this process right for a user that used WhatsApp for 8 years? That’s not the best way to repay his loyalty for choosing the WhatsApp service. It’s really unacceptable that an account has been banned after being their user for 8 years, without any real possibility to appeal. I say real because the sentence “If you think your account was banned by mistake, please respond to this email and we’ll look into your case.” doesn’t change the situation. They keep saying that the account activity has violated their Terms of Service.
  4. Why doesn’t WhatsApp finally improve the ways to ask for clarifications about why an account has been banned? It’s an important priority. And why isn’t there a good process that a user can follow to request to be unbanned?
    It really seems there is a standard way to reply when a user sends a request to be unbanned: reply saying he violated the Terms of Service, and refuse to listen to any reason (“Responses to this email thread will not be read.”).

I explained on my Discord Server that people have their entire life on WhatsApp: photos, videos, important conversations about their job, chats with family, friends or people that passed away. You cannot imagine how sad it is. They cannot lose their WhatsApp account because their system wrongly banned them and it’s broken.
I’ve also explained that I really receive a lot of reports every day on Twitter, from banned users but I can do nothing to help… because:

  1. I cannot really be sure if they are right.
  2. I cannot unban accounts.
  3. I have no power to monitor their situation, obviously.

But I’m really so sorry every time I read a good report with a good explanation with some evidence and I understand the user did nothing wrong. For example I receive the same report a lot of times about using “suspicious words” in group name and description from their accounts… but their accounts were stolen so they didn’t personally change the group name/description. But WhatsApp still says they violated their Terms of Service. In this case it’s really hard to think that this user did something wrong after 8 years.

After my response, showing my total understanding, the user replied so:


Wow. I did not expect such an answer. Thank you for listening, supporting and understanding how easily WhatsApp can ruin an entire life. Thanks for the help that is not at all obvious. I did not expect anyone to listen to me and even try to help me. I’ve been without WhatsApp for over a week now and I feel disconnected from the world. As you wrote, my whole life is inside – the pictures, the videos, the experiences. Losing such a thing in one second it hurts. I finally have some hope that I can at least recover the information I have in mind. I know you can not trust anyone if he is indeed right and did nothing or if he really did something. But I’m willing to provide all the details you need so you can help me in any way. I have been using WhatsApp for at least 8 years and I am in beta because I like to help, I like to get new things. There is no reason in the world that I have committed any violation. WhatsApp’s auto-response is truly delusional. I hope as you say that indeed something will move there in the future because in a moment an entire life can be ruined. I am grateful for the response, the understanding, the caring and perseverance that you and your team make. Please help me return the bill or at least the chats and pictures I have.

This user was so grateful for my availability, but I think: why cannot WhatsApp do the same? It must be said that, if you are wrongly banned from using WhatsApp, it’s really hard to get out of it. Just consider that I’m aware of 3 possible ways to ban a WhatsApp account:

  • The first method was shared somewhere on the Internet, but nobody noticed it (yet). I cannot personally ensure it works, but it’s likely.
  • A Brazilian follower that created crash codes on WhatsApp for iOS (that only uses them to block the device of people that share illegal things on WhatsApp groups — yes, there are some people in Brazil who committed to fight child exploitation when shared as messages) contacted me some months ago and he partially explained how to do. I cannot ensure it works here too, but his explanation was so incredible for me.
  • I’ve personally discovered a method to ban any WhatsApp account. I’ve obviously not used it for personal purposes, and I won’t do it, but it’s so scary.
  • I won’t discuss these methods publicly and privately, for obvious reasons.

    You can understand that the system is very broken and unfortunately a lot of people are wrongly banned from using WhatsApp, and they don’t know how to get their account back: they are forced to buy a new phone number, but their trust in WhatsApp is surely different now and it cannot be bought.

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