95% WhatsApp users in India get pesky commercial messages every day: Survey

76% of respondents saw such messages on WhatsApp based on their conversations with WhatsApp business accounts and Facebook and Instagram activities

BS Reporter

Around 95 per cent of WhatsApp users in India received unsolicited or pesky commercial communication on the messaging app, a survey has found.
Most of these annoying messages came from people selling financial services, real estate, and health care and pathology service, or from those offering jobs or earning opportunities, said the report by social network LocalCircles. Alarmingly, the survey also found that 76 per cent of respondents were seeing such messages on WhatsApp based on their conversations with WhatsApp business accounts and Facebook and Instagram activities.

LocalCircles said it has been seeing WhatsApp users in India raise issues about unsolicited commercial communication on WhatsApp since 2021. It said that in 2022, “the issue was escalated to the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) while including Trai in the correspondence as well”. The incidents were on the rise after WhatsApp revised its privacy policy in May 2021, the platform added.
The spam messages continued even as most of the WhatsApp users surveyed were using tools like blocking or archiving. The data shows 60 per cent of the respondents reported an increase in such messages, while 16 per cent felt that there was most likely an increase. Fifty four per cent got 1-3 spam or promotional messages every day, while 30 per cent of respondents said they received 4-7 such messages.

In terms of the sectors, 73 per cent of the respondents said they received messages promoting or selling financial services; 69 per cent said they came from real estate agents or developers. Fifty eight per cent said they received messages offering jobs or earning opportunities, while 54 per cent said healthcare and pathology services reached out to them. Thirty eight per cent received offers for services like RO repair, spa, beauty.
The community-based social network surveyed over 51,000 citizens across 351 districts. Around 56 per cent of respondents were from below tier-2 cities. Thirty nine per cent were women.

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“LocalCircles will escalate the findings of this survey to relevant stakeholders like MeitY and others to intervene and work with WhatsApp so the unsolicited commercial communication on the platform can be reduced,” the platform said.

First Published: Feb 22 2023 | 9:19 PM IST

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