Brands are spamming WhatsApp users in India, Facebook’s largest market • TechCrunch

As Meta gets deeper into businesses on WhatsApp, its biggest bet is to monetize the instant messaging app with more than 2 billion users, we’ll soon see how the user experience can change on the free app. It’s not great.

Many people in India, WhatsApp’s largest market with more than 500 million accounts, have complained about receiving too many spam messages from businesses in recent months. Users say WhatsApp, which has rapidly replaced the domestic SMS app by offering free text messaging, is looking more and more like that SMS app.

A person familiar with the matter said that thousands of brands in India have signed up for WhatsApp, consistently succeeding in reaching the eyeballs of more than 80% of users. What’s more frustrating is that even after users have blocked some businesses, many people still return to inboxes from different phone numbers, according to the author’s account.

In many ways, this issue is not surprising.

Google has offered businesses in India the ability to use RCS to enhance their communication with customers in the country, the company’s largest market for users. Rich Communication Service, or RCS, is a collective effort by several industry players to augment traditional SMS with modern features like richer text and end-to-end encryption.

The company had to suspend domestic service after some businesses started abusing the company’s anti-spam policies to send promotional messages to users in India.

Read more about WhatsApp’s rampant spam problem on The rest of the world.

A spokesperson for Meta made the following comment:

“Texting is the new way to get things done, better than e-mails or phone calls. Our rule is that people always need to request updates before a business can message them, and we’re empowering people with easy ways to block a business or report any issues when. We’re constantly working with businesses to make sure messages are useful and expected, and we have limits on how many messages they can send each day. Getting this right is important to us, the businesses, and most importantly, the people we serve.”

Updated, 10/10/22, 5:30pm ET with Meta comment.


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