Protecting your WhatsApp Business Messaging Policy and Guidelines

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WhatsApp has well over 2 billion monthly active users, making it one of the most popular instant messengers.

As a result, over 50 million brands have signed on for the WhatsApp Business platform to better engage with their customers. Along with offering powerful data protection and bulk messaging capabilities, WhatsApp has a message open rate of around 95%, unheard of with texts and emails.

However, as businesses ramp up WhatsApp adoption for their customer and prospect engagement activities, they must also be aware of a crucial fact—the platform bans millions of accounts every year.

While the average business can deal with an account suspension using another phone number, regulated entities must closely monitor their WhatsApp communication compliance, given that their stakes are much higher.

Best practices for using WhatsApp Business in a compliant manner

The WhatsApp Business Terms of Service is quite comprehensive, and it covers the multitude of ways in which enterprise users can run afoul of the platform’s moderation mechanisms.

The major takeaways for compliance teams when it comes to remaining compliant while messaging customers or prospects are:

The importance of serving customers with accurate information
WhatsApp compliance requires companies to be watchful of how the platform is being employed by their staff when it comes to customer-facing interactions.  It is worth mentioning that no misleading communication is to be sent out to users. Impersonating another company, misrepresenting what your company’s services can do for them, etc., are to be avoided at all costs.

The customer’s data security and privacy are non-negotiable.
WhatsApp will find your company’s Business account to be in violation of its terms of use if you do not ensure the security of customer information and acquire all the necessary permissions for collecting and processing the same.

Even before initiating the conversation, WhatsApp Business users must ensure that the people they are communicating with have given them their mobile number with the intention of receiving messages and calls by establishing a clear opt-in mechanism.

Importantly, the business messaging platform frowns upon the practice of collecting unnecessary information from users other than what is needed to support the conversation with that individual.

Asking for identifiers, such as full-length payment card details, personal ID card details, financial account details, etc., are especially red flags when it comes to conversations with users on WhatsApp. Also, if the customer wants to end communication with the company, their wish has to be respected because the messaging platform doesn’t look kindly on spamming.

Laws including the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) also require similar protections for consumer data, so compliance teams must take their WhatsApp compliance seriously.

The need for access controls
WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption only guarantees that messages are secure while being sent, so it is your responsibility to put in place measures that prevent your employees from sharing sensitive customer information with unauthorized personnel, devices, or applications.

The access controls can be strengthened by making employees access WhatsApp Business via company-issued phones.

Not having transparency and accountability when it comes to employee WhatsApp communication can have ramifications beyond the platform. 11 Wall Street firms that got caught in the crosshairs of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) found that out the hard way—-they paid about $289 million in penalties for their employees sending business messages on their personal devices, as part of the infamous WhatsApp fines.

The call for measures against any form of discrimination
While using the WhatsApp Business platform, your employees are to be mindful of the anti-discrimination laws and norms of the region or industry. The terms of use are quite clear when it comes to prohibiting discriminatory treatment of individuals based on anyone’s race, citizenship, religion, age, gender, disability, family status, etc. Similarly, abusive or offensive content, including explicit material is not permissible on the platform.

As a result, companies must invest in communication compliance supervision and training for their employees so that inappropriate messages aren’t shared via official accounts.

The case for not depending on WhatsApp to comply with industry-specific regulations
The platform’s terms of use make it clear that it is the companies’ responsibility to be compliant with applicable laws depending on the industry.

For instance, regulators for industries, like finance, healthcare, IT, etc., make WhatsApp recordkeeping compulsory for a period. While WhatsApp has some backup capabilities, it isn’t equipped to meet enterprise-grade compliance requirements, necessitating third-party mobile archiving solutions to capture and retain business-related communications.

The platform further doesn’t allow for call recording, which is crucial for regulatory compliance in certain industries, so compliance teams must invest in an archiver that can capture calls as well.

Conclusion

The WhatsApp Business platform may limit or remove access to your account altogether if you violate its terms. As a starting point, companies can ensure that messages are sent with consent and that the users are not spammed or misled in any way by the communication, which will go a long way in reducing the negative feedback from the people receiving your messages.

But to be prepared for every eventuality that may lead to account closure or worse, non-compliance with industry regulations, compliance teams must invest in a mobile archiver, like TeleMessage that can capture employee messages and calls in real-time. As the messages are retained as a copy the moment it is sent or received in an archiving vendor of your choice, it is impossible to delete or modify.

All aspects of the message, including files, images, emojis, and text are retained along with the sender and receiver information for added context. So, at any point in time, compliance teams can verify who has violated WhatsApp or industry regulations, leading to boosted accountability. The solution works without any modification to the user experience, so compliance teams do not have to depend on employees to back up their conversations for reviews and audits. Most importantly, the messages sent from both company-issued and BYOD phones can be retained, irrespective of the OS. The archived communication can further be auto-deleted once the retention period mandated by the industry is over.

To see how the solution can help you with WhatsApp compliance, contact us for a demo.

About TeleMessage

TeleMessage captures and retains mobile content, including mobile SMS messages, voice calls WhatsApp, and WeChat conversations from corporate or BYOD mobile phones to ensure compliance with various data protection regulations. The messages are securely and reliably retained within TeleMessage servers or forwarded to your choice of archiving data storage vendor.

Our mobile archiving products securely record content from mobile carriers and mobile devices for various ownership models (BYOD, CYOD, and employer-issued). With our multiple archiving solutions, you can always find the right tools or blend for your requirements:

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