WhatsApp, the mobile messaging app that has almost replaced SMS, has become an indispensable tool for everyone holding a smartphone. Be it for work, friends or family, it is a cross-platform app that you can use with anyone anywhere around the world regardless of the type of smartphone owned.
That's all and well but as with any social messaging app, one should not overstep the limits set by the developers.
Here are the two main warning messages you need to take note of, as told by WhatsApp in its Frequently Asked Questions section.
1. "You're temporarily banned from WhatsApp"
This usually happens when,
"Sending too many messages to users who do not have your number saved in their address books. Make sure that you ask all of your WhatsApp contacts to add your current number to their address books."
"Creating too many groups that contain users who do not list you in their address books. Make sure that you ask all of your WhatsApp contacts to add your current number to their address books."
You may have the phone number of everyone around you, but sometimes, the feeling's not mutual and people do not have your number in their contacts list. This is especially true in massive group chats with classmates, colleagues, friends and family.
"Being blocked by too many people in a short period of time. Make sure you only communicate with people who want to receive messages from you."
Be nice, don't be a stalker. If you are not getting replies, don't prod unnecessarily. This usually is followed by the next thing not to do.
"Sending the same message to too many people. Use Broadcast Lists to send the same message to your contacts."
Don't spam. Whether you are canvasing for votes for some competition, or just love repeating yourself. WhatsApp recommends the usage of their Broadcast Lists feature, should you require the need to send the same message to multiple contacts.
And of course,
"You may have violated our Terms of Service."
The one and only sanctimonious line all companies love to use. However, in all seriousness, its good to read the Terms of Service of the apps you use, so that you make sure you are not getting cheated and misled. Think data privacy.
There is no set timing for the temporary ban. It will depend on the severity of your infringement. Some users have reported a ban of up to 24 hours, while some just lasts a few hours. If you are deemed to have committed more serious violations, you will no longer receive a timeout. Which brings us to the next warning message.
2. "Your phone number is banned from using WhatsApp. Contact support for help."
If you see this pop-up when you load WhatsApp on your phone, it's probably time to reflect on your actions.
"Sending ads or any other form of commercial solicitation. Sending spam or unsolicited messages."
So you set up a new business and want to promote it. Blatantly doing it via spammy messages to everyone in your contact list is probably not a good idea, try subtly weaving your new venture into your conversations. We should be thankful to WhatsApp too for this filter. Back in the early days of the app, getting random messages from people offering tuition or money lenders were a tad annoying.
"Submitting content (in the status, profile pictures or messages) that is unlawful, obscene, threatening, harassing, hateful, racially or ethnically offensive or otherwise inappropriate."
You shouldn't do any of these anywhere, period.
"Being annoying to other users."
Close friends may have a higher tolerance for your nonsense, but try to tone it down when chatting with acquaintances, or people unfamiliar of your true nature.
"Being a repeat infringer."
Basically means 'all of the above'. Once you get the cooldown timer for the first time, hopefully you should have realised by then that you did something wrong.
"Using an automated system or an unauthorized / unofficial client application to send messages through WhatsApp."
Don't use third party apps as a proxy, or bots to send messages.
WhatsApp is free, just use it on its own, and remember, moderate your usage.