95% WhatsApp users surveyed claim receiving pesky or unsolicited commercial communication every day
- ● WhatsApp users in India indicate most pesky messages come from someone selling financial services, real estate, offering jobs / earning opportunities, healthcare and pathology services
- ● 76% say they are also seeing such messages on WhatsApp based on their conversations with WhatsApp business accounts and Facebook & Instagram activities
LocalCircles since 2021 has been seeing WhatsApp users in India raise issues about unsolicited commercial communication on WhatsApp and through 2022 have been reporting a rise in such communication. In late 2022, LocalCircles attempted to quantify this menace via a user survey and found that 95% of WhatsApp users surveyed were receiving such communication. The same was escalated by LocalCircles to MEITY while including TRAI in the correspondence as well. Since the complaints from WhatsApp users continued and no action has emerged from MEITY or WhatsApp to address this menace, LocalCircles conducted a follow-on survey to understand if the situation has changed. The survey received over 51,000 responses from citizens located in 351 districts of India. 61% respondents were men while 39% respondents were women. 44% respondents were from tier 1, 35% from tier 2 and 21% respondents were from tier 3 & 4 districts.
95% WhatsApp users surveyed in India indicate that they get 1 or more pesky messages each day; 41% get 4 or more such messages daily
The first question in the survey asked WhatsApp users “On average, how many promotional or spam WhatsApp messages are you receiving on your phone every day”? A total of 13,462 responded to this query with 95% indicating that they get one or more unsolicited commercial messages on WhatsApp daily. The data shows that only 5% of those surveyed are spared this harassment, but 54% get 1-3 spam or promotional messages every day; 30% get 4-7 such messages and 11% get 8 or more such messages every day.
Financial services, real estate, healthcare/ pathology services and job/earnings offers are the most common among pesky or unsolicited commercial WhatsApp messages
The survey then sought to know what type of unsolicited WhatsApp message are being received. Some among the 13,437 respondents to this question selected more than one option. Majority or 73% indicated messages promoting or selling financial services; 69% pointed at selling real estate; 58% indicated offering jobs / earnings; 54% healthcare and pathology services; 38% pointed to offering services like RO repair, spa, beauty and massage, etc.; 25% to online or fantasy gaming; 23% to providing mobile talk / data plans, etc.; and 25% to other unspecified categories. In effect, financial services, real estate, healthcare/ pathology services and job/earnings offers are the most common among pesky or unsolicited commercial WhatsApp messages. Most Whatsapp users get such messages across multiple categories listed.
73% of those surveyed exercise the option to block the numbers from where the unsolicited commercial messages come
Many experts assume that many WhatsApp users in India do not avail the options of blocking, muting or archiving users and chats or lack awareness. To understand that, the third question in the survey asked respondents “How do you handle those senders who send promotional or spam messages to you on WhatsApp?” Majority or 73% out of 12,673 respondents to this question indicated that they exercise the option to block the numbers from where the unsolicited commercial messages come; 3% of those surveyed indicated that they archive such chats and 5% indicated that they mute them while 19% just ignore such messages. Both blocking and archiving ensure that messages from unwanted numbers are not presented to a WhatsApp user while muting a chat means group message notifications are not delivered to them. In some cases, spammers create groups of users and send pesky messages to them as it enables them to send such messages to a larger number of WhatsApp users at one go. The finding here clearly indicates that majority WhatsApp users surveyed are using tools available to them like blocking or archiving and yet the spam messages are continuing indicating that the senders are also switching numbers or that there are so many of them that the menace continues.
76% of those surveyed are seeing an increase in pesky or unsolicited commercial messages based on their conversations with WhatsApp business accounts and their activity on Facebook/ Instagram
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 survey received over 51,000 responses from citizens located in 351 districts of India. 61% respondents were men while 39% respondents were women. 44% respondents were from tier 1, 35% from tier 2 and 21% respondents were from tier 3 & 4 districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.