Tag: whatsapp

By Zoe Kleinman for BBC

Message platforms Signal and Telegram have both seen a huge surge in downloads around the world following a controversial update to WhatsApp’s terms and conditions.

WhatsApp has told its two billion users they must allow it to share data with its parent company Facebook if they wish to continue using it.

This does not apply to users in the UK and Europe.

However, the notification has been sent to everyone.

All WhatsApp users will be unable to continue with the service unless they accept the new terms by 8 February. The platform said the update will enable it to offer features such as shopping and payments.

It also said its practice of sharing data with Facebook was not new.

WhatsApp and Facebook to share data outside Europe
Both Telegram and Signal also offer free-to-use encrypted messaging services.

Signal strength
According to data from analytics firm Sensor Tower, Signal was downloaded globally 246,000 times the week before WhatsApp announced the change on 4 January, and 8.8 million times the week after.

This included big surges in India, where downloads went from 12,000 to 2.7 million, the UK (from 7,400 to 191,000) and the US (63,000 to 1.1 million).

In a series of tweets, Signal said some people were reporting issues with creating groups and delays to verification codes arriving because of the rapid expansion but that it was solving the issues.

“Our new servers are ready to serve you,” it said on 10 January.

It also received endorsement from Tesla co-founder Elon Musk, who tweeted “use Signal” on 7 January.

Telegram soars
Telegram has proved even more popular, with downloads booming globally from 6.5 million for the week beginning 28 December to 11 million over the following week.

In the UK, downloads went from 47,000 to 101,000. And in the US they went from 272,000 to 671,000.

During the same period, WhatsApp’s global downloads shrank from 11.3 million to 9.2 million.

Even so, one industry watcher said he did not think this necessarily represented a big problem for WhatsApp, which has been downloaded 5.6 billion times since its launch in 2014.

“It’s going to be difficult for rivals to break user habits, and WhatsApp will continue to be one of the world’s most popular and widely used messaging platforms,” said Craig Chapple, mobile insights strategist at Sensor Tower.

“It’ll be interesting to see whether this latest trend sticks, or users revert back to what they know.”

WhatsApp has said the data it shares with its parent company does not include messages, groups or call logs.

However, it does include:

  • Phone number and other information provided on registration (such as name)
  • Information about the user’s phone, including make, model, and mobile company
  • Internet protocol (IP) addresses, which indicate the location of a user’s internet connections
  • Any payments and financial transactions made over WhatsApp

It said its policies were in line with “applicable” privacy laws.

 

When work WhatsApps cross the line

Almost all of us belong to some kind of WhatsApp or other group chat for work purposes. However, cyber sexual harassment in the new world of work is becoming an increasing threat, says Phetheni Nkuna of Cliffe Decker Hoffmeyer.

Group and individual chats may become an uncomfortable – and litigious – place.

Inappropriate messages sent between employees include:

  • Repeatedly texting a co-worker to ask them out
  • Making fun of a person (body shaming) in a group email or WhatsApp group chat
  • Posting or sending a sexually offensive meme to a workplace collaboration app (Slack, Google Hangouts), WhatsApp, Teams, Zoom or email
  • Posting or sending a lewd and/or sexually offensive GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)
  • Sharing personally identifying information about someone, either to embarrass/humiliate them, or cause them to fear for their safety, with sexual undertones
  • Quid pro quo sexual harassment – sex for jobs, benefits or some other benefit.

Employers are liable

Nkuna said that sexual harassment is covered by a number of pieces of legislation in South Africa, including section 6 of the Employment Equity Act which defines sexual harassment as a form of discrimination.

Employers should:

  • Take all reasonable and practical steps to ensure that employees do not commit any act of sexual harassment
  • Provide safe and healthy working environment. Confirmed in J v M Ltd [1989] 10 ILJ 755 (IC) that employers have a duty to ensure that employees are not subject to any form of sexual harassment
  • Beware that employees may sue an employer as a result of allegations that the employer did not deal with sexual harassment complaints in a proper fashion

 

WhatsApp photos, videos could self-destruct soon

Source: Business Insider SA

WhatsApp could soon include an option to send a video or photo that will disappear after it was viewed once.

According to the authoritative blog WABetaInfo, which tracks the development of new WhatsApp functions, the image will expire as soon as the recipient viewed the video, GIF or photo, and leaves the chat.

WABetaInfo became aware of the planned function when it analysed the WhatsApp 2.20.201.6 beta update for Android, which was released recently and includes references for a new feature called “Expiring Media”.

WABetaInfo believes the new function will probably called “View Once”, which was how a new button on the latest update was tagged.

Users will be able to choose to send an “expiring” image, video or GIF to a contact, which can only be viewed once by the recipient.

If the recipient takes a screen grab of the image, it remains unclear whether the sender will be notified, reports the social media information hub Social Barrel .

The wildly popular social media platform Snapchat, which pioneered self-destructing messages, currently offers this functionality.

Snapchat will notify a user when another user has taken a screenshot of their photo, video, chat conversation, or Snapchat story.

“Expiring” messages will appear in a different way in the conversation, so you can easily understand that the image is going to expire, says WABetaInfo. The platform also reported that WhatsApp is planning to add a new security feature which will require fingerprints to view messages.

Both of the planned new features are still under development, with no launch date specified.

 

New WhatsApp feature to debunk fake news

By Marco Cocomello for Glitched

WhatsApp is releasing a new feature that lets users quickly search the contents of a viral message to fact-check for fake news. The company announced that starting today, a magnifying glass icon will appear next to messages that have been forwarded through a chain of more than five people. Tapping this icon searches the message’s contents online and will reveal any common conspiracy theories or fake information the message may hide.

WhatsApp claims this new search feature uses advanced algorithms to help debunk any fake news you may receive. The company shared an example of a message sent to users claiming that “drinking freshly boiled garlic water will cure COVID-19”. The magnifying glass search brings up three fact-checking websites which flag the claim as fake news.

If privacy is your concern then don’t worry. WhatsApp claims that the feature works by allowing users to upload the message via their browser. In addition, WhatsApp never sees the message itself. It is simply directed towards fact-checking sites. The search works the same way a private browsing session would.

The new WhatsApp fact-checking feature is rolling out today. It may take some time to arrive in SA. So far, the feature is available in Brazil, Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, the UK and the US. Users need to update their app in order to make use of the new feature. Keep in mind that the magnifying icon will not appear unless that said text has been forwarded to more than five people.

This new feature is just another step Facebook is taking to prevent false information spreading through the app. Earlier this year, WhatsApp announced it would limit the number of people you can forward texts to. This was also to help stop the spread of fake news. It is unclear whether or not the change helped in any way.

Facebook to merge WhatsApp and Messenger

By Bradley Prior for MyBroadband

Facebook is looking at integrating WhatsApp into Facebook Messenger, according to a report by WABetaInfo.

The report cited developer Alessandro Paluzzi, who found references within Facebook code regarding the integration of these Facebook-owned services.

“In particular, Facebook is creating some tables in a local database in order to manage messages and services with other WhatsApp users,” said WABetaInfo.

Properties found within Facebook Messenger’s code would reportedly allow Messenger to understand if WhatsApp contacts are blocked, the sounds used by push notifications, and details of WhatsApp chats like phone numbers, message counters, and whether the chat is archived.

Notably, however, Facebook does not currently have properties that allow it access to the content of chats, members of a specific group, and profile pictures of contacts.

WABetaInfo said that while Facebook can’t currently collect WhatsApp messages, if this feature continues to be developed, it is likely that Facebook will hold WhatsApp messages in the aforementioned local database in the future.

“Since WhatsApp messages are end-to-end encrypted, it’s likely that Facebook will import the Signal protocol to encrypt and decrypt messages, already used by WhatsApp,” added WABetaInfo.

However, the website noted that since this is still under development, all of this may still change, or be destroyed completely.

Paluzzi also claimed that Instagram is looking to integrate Facebook Messenger into the Instagram app.

New WhatsApp features
WhatsApp recently announced a number of new features, including the implementation of dark mode for desktop versions of the messaging platform.

Group chats of up to eight members can now start a group video call with all members in just one tap.

Other features that are being added to WhatsApp in coming weeks include:

  • Animated stickers – New animated sticker packs will be added to WhatsApp.
  • QR codes – Instead of having to type someone’s number into their contact list, users will be able to scan each others’ QR codes and automatically add the user to their contacts.
  • Statuses on KaiOS – Users who are operating WhatsApp on devices that use KaiOS will get access to WhatsApp’s Status feature.

Whatsapp Stokvels are back

By Bombi Mavundza for Business Insider SA

Despite the name change, the ‘stokvel’ still has the same modus operandi. Members deposit R200 – and hope to make huge profits.

The National Stokvel Association of SA (Nasasa) has previously warned South Africans that WhatsApp stokvels are most likely to be pyramid schemes rather than genuine savings vehicles – and those who have joined them have probably been scammed.

Like most pyramid schemes, the first few to join received a pay-out, but those who followed often lost all their money.

Many victims who have joined such stokvels in the past have seen group administrators disappear after making payments into the stokvels.

According to Nasasa founder and chairperson of Nasasa, Andrew Lukhele, scammers were using the popularity of stokvels to create pyramid schemes and take advantage of people.

Traditional stokvels are based on trust where everyone in the stokvel knows each other, and the terms of payout have already been set.

The Whatsapp scams often involves anonymous people, so it is impossible to track or trace the money when it disappears.

A stokvel, derived from “stock fair”, is a savings scheme where a group of people come together to save or increasing invest together.

Source: MyBroadband

If you are the admin on a Facebook or WhatsApp group, you can be held vicariously liable for illegal cigarette and alcohol sales on that platform.

This is the warning from Megan Harrington-Johnson, managing partner at HJW Attorneys, who was speaking to Jacaranda FM.

The ban on alcohol and cigarette sales has drawn sharp criticism from many people who argue that it is doing more harm than good.

Apart from the lack of support from many citizens, it is also costing the country a lot of money in lost tax revenue.

SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said the losses in tax revenue from beer and alcohol in April were around R1.5 billion.

Another consequence of the ban is the rapid rise of black-market sales of liquor and tobacco products.

The Witness reported that the ban on cigarette and alcohol sales has created a thriving underground market.

It is, however, not only criminals engaging in this illegal activity. Those supporting it, The Witness said, include normally law-abiding citizens and many professional people.

“Some tuck-shop and pub owners, and their connections, have formed WhatsApp groups advertising what they have in stock,” it said.

Warning from Harrington-Johnson

Harrington-Johnson warned people that, independent of their feeling towards the ban, it is currently law and people who break this law face harsh penalties.

She said it is worrying that people on social media are advertising alcohol and cigarettes for sale, which is illegal.

“It is currently illegal to trade in, transport, or sell alcohol or cigarettes,” she said.

If you are putting these adverts on your Facebook feed or WhatsApp group, you are contravening the lockdown regulations.

“If you are an admin of a Facebook group or a creator of a WhatsApp chat and you allow this content on your platform, you can be held vicariously liable,” she said.

She said all it takes is a screenshot sent to your local police station and you can be in very big trouble.

“Please be very careful. Educate yourself and make informed decisions,” she said.

By James de Villiers for Business Insider SA

Media law experts believe WhatsApp admins in SA may be held liable for false information shared on their groups.

However, they would need to know that the information being shared is false, and do nothing about it.

Knowingly sharing fake news is a crime subject to 6 months imprisonment under SA’s Covid-19 disaster regulations.

Administrators of WhatsApp groups in South Africa may be held criminally liable if fake news is shared in the group, but only if they are aware that the information being shared is incorrect.

Under South Africa’s coronavirus disaster regulations, spreading false information, colloquially known as fake news, about the novel coronavirus and Covid-19 with intent to deceive is a crime with up to 6 months imprisonment.

PPM Attorneys communications lawyer Lucien Pierce believes Whatsapp group administrators who were aware that false information is being shared may also be held liable.

Pierce said the disaster regulations, however, make it clear that the fake news has to be spread with malicious intent, and therefore the administrator will have to know that the information being shared is false.

“Many people, like my mom, share many things during the course of a day which is false but which they do not know is false, and they, therefore, cannot be found liable,” Pierce told Business Insider South Africa.

“The same is true for an administrator: they would have to know that the information being shared is false. If they do not correct the information, or do nothing to stop it, they can then be held liable.”

Von Seidels copyright lawyer Salomé le Roux explained that a precedent has been set in South Africa where a court held a person who was tagged in a defamatory Facebook post jointly liable for the defamation in the post.

She said the ruling meant that anyone who participates in the publication or is part of the “publication chain” of defamatory material – or, under the disaster regulations, spreading of fake news – can be held liable.

A WhatsApp administrator is deemed to part of the “publication chain” as they are deemed to have created the group and has control over who is added and what is posted there, Le Roux told Business Insider South Africa.

“If someone [therefore] posts something defamatory [or false] and the WhatsApp admin sees it and does nothing, it is the same as if he was tagged on a defamatory Facebook post, but did not remove the tag and remains associated with the post,” Le Roux said.

Webber Wentzel media law expert Dario Milo said it is highly unlikely that someone will be held liable as the intent to deceive needs to be proved.

“[Only] once an administrator has knowledge that someone has posted fake news, and does not act to remove it from the group, he or she will be at risk of contravening the [disaster] regulation,” Milo said.

By Phillip de Wet for Business Insider SA

Scammers are separating helpful South Africans from their money in what appears to be a wave of fraud that relies on hijacking WhatsApp accounts – and then simply asking for money.

The scammers first take control of a victim’s phone number, usually by porting the number to a new service provider, and so associating it with a SIM card under their control. That allows them to receive confirmatory SMSes from WhatsApp, and so take control of an existing account, while the now-offline victim is none the wiser.

Now able to impersonate the victim, the scammers access the phone numbers of friends and acquaintances, in many instances seemingly just waiting for incoming messages, or by way of WhatsApp groups to which the victim belongs. Then they simply ask for money.

Number porting has in the past often been used to intercept one-time PIN (OTP) numbers – but that requirers scammers to have control of bank accounts, either by skimming credit card information or stealing login details for online banking.

In the current wave of scams, the attackers do not need such access. Friends of victims are asked to send money via services such as First National Bank’s eWallet, which sends the code required to withdraw money from an ATM via SMS – with the cash immediately available.

As of Wednesday it was not yet clear how widespread the new scam was, with network operators saying they were detecting only a small number of fraudulent attempts to port numbers – while many people said they were receiving worrying notifications, or had already seen their friends approached for money.

Here’s how to protect yourself against both sides of the latest WhatsApp hijacking scam.

Turn on security notifications in WhatsApp.
WhatsApp security code settings
WhatsApp will alert you when a contact changes their phones – if you let it. For those in many big WhatsApp groups – with people who like to switch phones – the constant messages that a contact’s “security code has changed” can becoming annoying, so some people turn it off.

If you are one of those people, turn those notifications back on by going to “settings”, then selecting “account”, and from there “security”.

Should a “friend” ask for money shortly after their security code changes, be extremely suspicious.

Don’t ignore porting SMSes.
Cellphone companies will send out notification, by SMS, before porting a number – but will consider no response as permission. If you receive an SMS that warns your number is to be ported, do not ignore it.

If you are worried that message might be a scam in itself, phone your network provider on the usual service number.

Don’t turn off your phone if you’re getting annoying calls.
Some victims of porting say they were bombarded by annoying phone calls before their numbers were hijacked. The idea behind constantly ringing your number is to make you turn off your phone – so that you won’t receive porting notifications, and won’t notice you have suddenly been kicked off the network.

If someone keeps phoning then putting down the phone before you can answer, or you keep receiving calls with nobody on the other side, assume you are being scammed, and rather put your phone on silent while watching out for SMSes.

Don’t ignore a loss of cellphone signal.
If your phone suddenly won’t connect to your mobile network – and you aren’t in the middle of nowhere, or in an area being load-shed – assume your number is being hijacked, and get in touch with your network service provider as soon as possible.

Don’t register a new WhatsApp account if you change phone numbers, update your number instead.
Some victims of WhatsApp identity fraud believe they were impersonated after their former, abandoned cellphone numbers were recycled by network operators.

If you are switching numbers and want to be sure nobody can pretend to be you in future, you can change the phone number associated with your WhatsApp account.

If you really care about your security, enable the PIN function on WhatsApp.
WhatsApp 2-step verification
For ultimate protection, you can create a six-digit PIN number in WhatsApp, without which it should be impossible to register on the service – so that no number-porting scam or other mechanism will let someone steal your identity.

There is no better way to protect yourself, but this two-step verification measure comes with a couple of caveats. If you do not associate an email address with that PIN, or lose access to the email address you register, you are in deep trouble if you ever forget your PIN. Also, WhatsApp will from time to time demand the number from you, which could get annoying.

The PIN activation is under “settings”, “account”, and then “two step verification”.

WhatsApp to launch new self-destruct feature

By Jasper Hamill for Metro

We’re all now wearyingly familiar with the concept that messages sent in private can be published publically and used to ruin our lives. So we’re glad to say that WhatsApp is about to give us a vital survival tool to help us through this age of cancel culture and social media mob justice.

It’s reportedly on the verge of rolling out ‘deleting messages’ which disappear after a short space of time. This means you can make off-colour jokes without fearing they will get into the hands of bullies and be used to destroy your career or get you kicked out of university.

The concept of an auto-deleting post was made famous by Snapchat, which prompted a moral panic stoked by grown-ups who were concerned young people were using the app to send nudes. Then Facebook introduced the feature in Instagram and now it’s about to grant WhatsApp fans the same superpower.

The reliable website WABetaInfo has claimed the feature is on the way and is now very close to release.

You’ll be able to choose whether posts vanish in one hour, day, week, month or year. The feature was originally called ‘disappearing messages’ but has now been renamed ‘deleting messages’.

It will work in group chats and probably one-on-one conversations as well. When these new type of messages are introduced, a new option will be introduced in group settings and the contact info sections which will allow users to switch them on and off.

WhatsApp has launched a new privacy feature which will stop you being pulled into group chats you don’t want to be a part of. The feature was rolled out to a limited number of people earlier this year but has now been officially released to all users. You can now choose who can add you to groups, letting you block dodgy people or prevent annoying friends from adding you.

WhatsApp is beefing up its privacy protections (Image: Getty) This might sound like a frivolous feature, but in fact it’s a great privacy tool because people in groups can see each other’s phone numbers.

If you can take control of who adds you into these chats, then you have an extra tool to protect your identity and make sure strange or scammy people don’t contact you as well as protecting yourself from bullies.

When you’ve updated the app, just open up settings and scroll to ‘account’, followed by ‘privacy’ and then ‘groups’. You will be able to choose who’s allowed to add you to groups, with three options available.

Select ‘everyone’ and you’re wide open whilst choosing ‘my contacts’ means only friends will be able to add you. The early version of the update allowed you to also choose ‘nobody’, which locked your account down entirely. This has now been replaced by ‘My Contacts Except’, which will let you allow only certain contacts to add you to a group.

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