Tag Archives: WhatsApp

WhatsApp gives in, halts rollout of controversial update

WhatsApp will halt the rollout of its controversial new update amid protests from users.

People will now have three extra months to agree to its new rules, the company said.

And WhatsApp has committed to try and distribute more information about the rules in advance of the deadline in the hope of dispelling what it says is “misinformation”.

Users had originally been told they had to agree to the new rules by 8 February, or face having their accounts suspended or deleted.

Instead, users will have until 15 May before they are forced to agree to the rules, in the hope that they can “review the policy at their own pace”.

In the meantime, the company will “do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp”.

WhatsApp’s privacy policy began being pushed out to users in recent months and caused concern that it would be sharing more information with Facebook.

The company says that the new policy does not “expand our ability to share data with Facebook”, and that it is instead focused on its new business updates, which allow companies to host their shops on Facebook and communicate with users through WhatsApp. As such, the new rules do mention Facebook but primarily because communications with those businesses may be hosted on its servers.

But that has nonetheless led to a flurry of concerns that information and personal data from WhatsApp is being shared with Facebook.

That in turn has meant that users have rushed to competing apps such as Signal and Telegram, in pursuit of what they perceive to be better security and privacy.

In its announcement, WhatsApp suggested that those concerns were rooted in “confusion” and “misinformation”.

“We’ve heard from so many people how much confusion there is around our recent update,” it said in the blog post that revealed the delay. “There’s been a lot of misinformation causing concern and we want to help everyone understand our principles and the facts.

“WhatsApp was built on a simple idea: what you share with your friends and family stays between you. This means we will always protect your personal conversations with end-to-end encryption, so that neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can see these private messages. It’s why we don’t keep logs of who everyone’s messaging or calling. We also can’t see your shared location and we don’t share your contacts with Facebook.”

Telegram chief says 25 million new users joined the platform in last 3 days

Telegram is a popular social media platform in a number of countries and is used both for private communications and sharing information and news.

The encrypted messaging app Telegram has registered 25 million new users in the past 72 hours, its Russia-born founder Pavel Durov said Tuesday, on the heels of WhatsApp announcing a change to its privacy terms.

Durov, 36, said on his Telegram channel that the app had over 500 million monthly active users in the first weeks of January and “25 million new users joined Telegram in the last 72 hours alone”.

The surge in downloads comes after WhatsApp, which boasts over two billion users, introduced controversial changes to its privacy conditions that will allow it to share more data with its parent company Facebook.

“People no longer want to exchange their privacy for free services,” Durov said without directly referring to the rival app.

WhatsApps’s new terms sparked criticism as users outside Europe who do not accept the new conditions before February 8 will be cut off from the messaging app.

Telegram is a popular social media platform in a number of countries, particularly in the former Soviet Union and Iran, and is used both for private communications and sharing information and news.

Durov on Tuesday said Telegram has become the “largest refuge” for those seeking a private and secure communications platform and assured new users that his team “takes this responsibility very seriously”.

Telegram was founded in 2013 by brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov, who also founded Russia’s social media network VKontakte.

Telegram refuses to cooperate with authorities and handover encryption keys, which resulted in its ban in several countries, including Russia.

Last year, Russia announced that it will lift its ban on the messenger app after more than two years of unsuccessful attempts to block it.

Why millions of users are dumping Whatsapp for Telegram, Signal, others

A new privacy policy by the popular social media platform, Whatsapp, is triggering an exodus of users to other less popular but equally functional platforms such as Telegram, Signal, among others.

Technology experts say if this is addressed, it could lead millions of users away from WhatsApp.

The new privacy policy which comes into force from February 8, allows WhatsApp and Facebook to share user information with businesses and third-party service providers that transact on these platforms.

Whatsapp in its new ‘Terms of Service’ which the users are expected to agree to says “…as part of the Facebook companies, Whatsapp receives information from and shares information with the Facebook Companies as described in Whatsapp’s privacy policy including to provide integrations which enable you to connect your Whatsapp experience with other Facebook company products; to ensure security, safety, and integrity across the Facebook company products; and to improve your ads and products experience across the Facebook Company products.”

Since its release days ago, the policy has been generating reactions from Whatsapp users in Nigeria and all over the world. But that is coming from those who took their time to read the terms as many users would hurriedly click ‘Agree’ without reading the content of the agreement.

Should you worry?

Though WhatsApp has been collecting data from its users since its inception, the new policy is about integrating the database with Facebook, which could on a future date resort to targeted advertising and political campaigns based on user information.

Also, it raises privacy concerns as it plans to monetise the user data.

Besides the device information and location data, the platform also collects information like messaging data, calling, status, groups (including group name, group picture, group description), payments or business feature, profile photo, whether you are online or not among others details.

It now wants users to share the phone number, IP address, mobile service provider, and browsing information with Facebook.

The new terms and conditions also say that if a user uses a data backup service integrated with WhatsApp (like iCloud, Google Drive), he/she will receive information such as your WhatsApp messages, the content of in-app players, your payment and transaction information, shipping details and transaction amount (if using WhatsApp Pay).

For now, the company has said it “still” does not allow third-party banner ads on their services and has no intention to introduce them, but it hinted at introducing the feature in the future. “If we ever do, we will update this privacy policy,” the company stated in the policy.

Here are five alternatives of Whatsapp that you can use

Telegram: The cloud-based messaging app offers end-to-end encryption for both messages and voice calls. Users can send up to 1.5GB of files and add up to 200, 000 users in a group. It is compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, Windows NT, macOS and Linux based operating systems.

Signal: It is available on Android and iOS. Unlike WhatsApp, the Signal Private Messenger app is also available on the iPad, and users can also download and install the Signal app on Windows, Linux and Mac, like WhatsApp.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also advised people to “Use Signal”. After his suggestion, Signal beat WhatsApp to become the top free app on App Store in India, Germany, France, Austria, Finland, Hong Kong, and Switzerland.

Viber: With Viber users will have access to unlimited calls, endless texting and high-quality video chat.

Threema: The messaging app from Switzerland provides end-to-end encryption for all messages. Threema uses the trusted open source NaCl cryptography library for encryption.

Element: Element also gives end-to-end encryption for text, voice, videos Messages. It works with Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, and major browsers.

Turkey Presidency quits WhatsApp, switches to local app BiP over privacy change

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s media office says it is quitting WhatsApp after the messaging app’s move to oblige many of its users to agree to a controversial new privacy policy.

In statements made through WhatsApp on Sunday, presidency officials said that media office will update journalists via BiP, a unit of Turkish communication company Turkcell, from Monday.

Following WhatsApp’s forced update in its privacy policy this week, users in Turkey have objected to it on Twitter with the hashtag #DeletingWhatsapp.

According to Turkish state media quoting Turkcell, BiP gained more than 1.12 million users in just 24 hours, boasting more than 53 million users worldwide.

Alternations made to WhatsApp’s terms and services will be effective from February 8 and they will allow it to share data with parent company Facebook and its other subsidiaries.

Users have to agree to the new terms in order to be able to keep using the application after the deadline.

On Saturday, Ali Taha Koc, head of the Turkish Presidential Digital Transformation Office, criticised WhatsApp’s new terms of services and the exemption from the new data-sharing rules for users in the United Kingdom and the European Union.

He called on Turks to use “national and local” apps such as BiP and Dedi.

“The distinction between EU member countries and others in terms of data privacy is unacceptable! As we have cited in the Information and Communication Security Guideline, foreign origin applications bear significant risks regarding data security,” Koc said in a tweet.

“That’s why we need to protect our digital data with local and national software and develop them in line with our needs. Let’s not forget that Turkey’s data would stay in Turkey thanks to local and national solutions.”

New rules
The firm said the updated terms will allow additional sharing of information between WhatsApp and Facebook and its other applications like Instagram and Messenger such as contacts and profile data but not the content of messages which remain encrypted.

Facebook aims to monetise WhatsApp by allowing businesses to contact their clients via the platform and to sell them products directly using the service, as they already do in India.

Facebook has come under increasing pressure from regulators as it tries to integrate its services.

In 2017, the EU fined the US social media giant 110 million euros (then $120m) for providing incorrect and misleading information about its 2014 takeover of WhatsApp concerning the ability to link accounts between the services.

Federal and state regulators in the US have accused Facebook of using its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram to crush competition and filed antitrust lawsuits last month that aim to force the company to divest from them.

In November, Turkey fined global social media companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, 10 million lira ($1.18m) each for not complying with a new social media law.

The new law, which came into effect in October, requires platforms with more than one million daily users in Turkey to appoint a representative accountable to Turkish courts, abide by orders to remove “offensive” content within 48 hours and store user data inside Turkey.

WhatsApp Launches First Digital Payments Option

WhatsApp official logo

Facebook on Monday added a digital payments feature to its WhatsApp messaging service, starting in Brazil but with an eye to expanding around the world.

WhatsApp users in Brazil can use the encrypted mobile messaging service to send money or make purchases, Facebook said in a blog post.

It marked the first time the payments platform used at the leading social network was woven into WhatsApp.

People will be able to send money or make a purchase from a local business without leaving their chat, the company noted.

“Payments on WhatsApp are beginning to roll out to people across Brazil beginning today and we look forward to bringing it to everyone as we go forward,” the service said.

Sending money or making payments is a free option for WhatsApp users, but businesses will be charged a processing fee on par with those charged for typically credit card transactions, according to the messaging service.

Facebook sees long-term, money-making potential in making its social network and messaging apps venues for businesses to engage in online conversations and transactions with customers.

“The over 10 million small and micro businesses are the heartbeat of Brazil’s communities,” WhatsApp said.

“It’s become second nature to send a zap to a business to get questions answered.”

Digital payments on WhatsApp will be tied to credit or debit cards to start, and transactions will require special identification codes or fingerprint verification.

WhatsApp is encrypted end-to-end, and is the most popular mobile messaging app in the world with more than 1.5 billion monthly users around the world, according to market tracker Statistica.

AFP

COVID-19: WhatsApp cuts message forwarding to 1 to check misinformation

Katie Paul, Reuters

Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) WhatsApp tightened message forwarding limits on Tuesday, restricting users to sharing forwarded content one chat at a time after a jump in messages touting bogus medical advice since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

The pandemic, which has killed more than 70,000 people worldwide, has been accompanied by what the World Health Organization (WHO) has called an “infodemic” of misinformation, prompting governments and other authorities to urge social media companies to do more to combat the problem.WhatsApp, which has more than 2 billion users worldwide, said in a blog post it made the change after observing a “significant increase” in the number of forwards since the start of the coronavirus crisis.“We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation,” the statement said.A WhatsApp spokesman said the new limit was in place indefinitely.The service has been imposing gradual curbs on message forwarding since 2018, after viral rumors on its platform triggered a wave of mass beatings and deaths in India.Since last year, users have been able to forward a message to only five individuals or groups at once, down from an earlier limit of 20. The app also labeled any messages that had been forwarded more than five times.Facebook and Twitter (TWTR.N) have responded to the deluge of inaccurate medical information posted in recent months by barring users from posting misleading information about the coronavirus, including denials of expert guidance and encouragement of fake treatments.But direct content moderation is not possible on WhatsApp, where chats are protected by end-to-end encryption blocking even the app itself from viewing content shared by users.That allows groups of hundreds of people to exchange texts, photos and videos, with no way to monitor the messages’ origin or full reach.WhatsApp said in its blog post that the previous limits set on forwards led to a 25% decrease in such messages.The app also encourages people to flag suspicious content to fact checking organizations and has enabled the WHO and national health authorities to share reliable information about the new coronavirus on the service using automated accounts.

(Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

How to activate fingerprint lock on WhatsApp

When it comes to instant messaging, Whatsapp is one among the few highly patronised platforms. And with each passing day, the creators look for ways to keep improving the service with new and exciting features.

Recall earlier this year, they rolled out Touch ID and Face ID for iPhone to provide an extra layer of security for WhatsApp users.

Well, it appears Android users now have a new feature as compensation.

Whatsapp revealed via their blog that it is introducing similar authentication, allowing you to unlock the app with your fingerprint, on supported Android phones.

In order to enable this feature, simply tap Settings > Account > Privacy > Fingerprint lock. Turn on Unlock with fingerprint, and confirm your fingerprint. Voila! You’re good to go!