Tag: whatsapp

Facebook changes product branding to FACEBOOK

Source: BBC 

Facebook is introducing new branding for its products and services in an attempt to distinguish the company from its familiar app and website.

Instagram and WhatsApp are among the services that will carry the new FACEBOOK brand in the next few weeks.

The main Facebook app and website will retain its familiar blue branding.

The new logo, which is in capital letters, uses “custom typography” and “rounded corners” so the company’s other products and app look different.

The branding also appears in different colours depending on which product it represents. So, for example, it will be green for WhatsApp.

“We wanted the brand to connect thoughtfully with the world and the people in it,” Facebook said. “The dynamic colour system does this by taking on the colour of its environment.”

Facebook’s chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio said: “People should know which companies make the products they use. We started being clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook years ago.

“This brand change is a way to better communicate our ownership structure to the people and businesses who use our services to connect, share, build community and grow their audiences.”

US Senator Elizabeth Warren has said she wants to break up the big tech companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Google and put them under tougher regulation.

This plan may be seen as Facebook’s way of hitting back, although Ms Warren – posting on Facebook – said: “Facebook can rebrand all they want, but they can’t hide the fact that they are too big and powerful. It’s time to break up Big Tech.”

Distancing the Facebook brand – the blue app that’s home to just about everyone, including your parents – from the trendier Instagram, a place for you and your friends, has always made good business sense for Facebook.

And it apparently worked: when Pew researchers asked study participants whether or not Facebook owned Instagram or WhatsApp, 49% of American adults were “not sure”.

So why would Facebook make this change?

It brings several benefits. Front of mind: the firm is covering itself from accusations it hides how powerful it really is by not making it absolutely clear they are behind most of the biggest apps in social media.

And Facebook also wants to fend off efforts to break it up, by making the case that the company isn’t simply a conglomerate of separate, distinct apps which could be easily broken up by regulators. Instead, this rebranding argues the firm is one big connected organism, called Facebook.

Facebook has come under criticism recently over a variety of issues.

Its boss Mark Zuckerberg had to face US lawmakers last month to explain the company’s policy on not fact-checking political adverts.

He also had to defend plans for a digital currency, talk about the social network’s failure to stop child exploitation on the network, and was quizzed over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Earlier in the year, Mr Zuckerberg said the firm was going to make changes to its social platforms to enhance privacy.

These included messages sent via Messenger being end-to-end encrypted, and hiding the number of likes an Instagram post receives from everyone but the person who shared it.

South African WhatsApp scam warning

Source: MyBroadband

The National Stokvel Association of South Africa (Nasasa) is warning South Africans about WhatsApp stokvel scams which are targeting victims through social media.

These WhatsApp stokvels catch unsuspecting victims by promising them a large return on investment in a short period of time.

For a R200 upfront investment the scammers promise that people will be paid R1,200 if their recruit more people into the scheme.

Participants said that as soon as they paid their money to the “WhatsApp stokvel”, the rest of the members disappeared.

Andrew Lukhele, founder and chairperson of Nasasa, warned that these WhatsApp stokvels are pyramid schemes.

As it is a pyramid scheme, only a few people who form part of the stokvel will get paid out. The rest will lose their money.

Lukhele warned that criminals are using the popularity of stokvels to promote their scams.

Police warning
The SA Police Service (SAPS) has also warned South Africans about these scams, saying that members of cash savings clubs (stokvels) must be cautious.

The SAPS said it has received multiple complaints from people who were scammed by criminals through a WhatsApp stokvel.

The police have asked the victims of the scams, or those who have knowledge about them, to contact the SAPS Crime Stop helpline on 0860 010 111.

How WhatsApp is killing calls in SA

A recent article by MyBroadband explored how the popularity of VoIP services like WhatsApp has impacted voice income for South African major mobile networks: Vodacom, MTN, Telkom and Cell C.

  • Vodacom has experienced a “slight decrease in the consumption of traditional voice minutes”, but said the advantages of traditional GSM calls still make it a good option for consumers.
  • MTN told MyBroadband that it has “experienced a decrease in traditional calls and an increase in VoIP usage to match”.
  • Cell C admitted they had noticed a decrease in the amount of traditional call minutes being used, but said that it had stabilised.
  • Telkom told MyBroadband that it had “not seen a decrease in the average minutes of use per user for both on and off-network calling”.

However, according to We are Social, “WhatsApp is the biggest messaging app … in South Africa. We have 38-million unique mobile users, which grew by two million between 2017 and 2018. ”

The high costs of data in South Africa prevent many users from using WhatsApp’s full capabilities.

MTN fined R5m for hiking WhatApp bundle prices

By Kgomotso Modise for EWN 

The network has been slapped with a R5-million fine for failing to notify authorities in time before hiking the price of its 1GB monthly WhatsApp bundle.

MTN says it believes its penalty from Icasa in the 1GB monthly WhatsApp bundle case should be proportional to its transgression.

The network has been slapped with a R5 million fine for failing to notify authorities in time before hiking the price of its 1 gigabyte monthly WhatsApp bundle. At least R2 million of the fine is suspended for 3 years.

In a statement, MTN spokesperson Jacqui O’Sullivan details multiple instances where the network notified Icasa of its intentions to increase the price of its 1GB monthly WhatsApp bundle.

She said they also wrote to Icasa shortly before the price hike but there was no response and it went ahead with the adjustment.

MTN said it respected the role of the authority and insisted that, at the time, the company believed that increasing the price of the bundle was the only way to ensure the continued functionality of MTN SA’s 3G network.

The network said it was very aware of the required Icasa timing, which was why it applied for leniency.

MTN will be taking the decision on review to the High Court.

WhatsApp rolls out trial fingerprint lock

By Babu Mohan for Android Central

The latest WhatsApp beta for Android adds support for fingerprint locking. WhatsApp had rolled out the authentication feature to iOS beta users roughly six months back.

Even with the Fingerprint lock feature enabled, you can still reply to messages from the notifications shade and answer WhatsApp calls.

In February this year, WhatsApp had rolled out the Authentication feature for iOS beta users, making it possible to use Touch ID to unlock the app. After more than six months, the feature has finally been made available for Android beta users today.

As spotted by the folks over at WABetaInfo, the Fingerprint lock feature will allow WhatsApp beta users on Android to open the app using the fingerprint sensor on their phone. Similar to the Authentication feature on iOS, users can still reply to messages from the notifications shade and answer calls, even when the app is locked.

The feature is available in the latest 2.19.221 beta version of the app. If you have already updated WhatsApp to the latest version and still do not see the Fingerprint lock feature, you should try reinstalling the app after backing up your chat history. In case the feature still doesn’t show up, all you can do is wait for it to be activated, provided your device meets the requirements.

To enable the feature, head over to Settings > Account > Privacy and tap on the Fingerprint lock option. Once you enable it, you will need to touch the fingerprint sensor every time you wish to unlock WhatsApp.

You can also choose how long the app should stay unlocked once you open it. You can have the feature automatically lock the app after 1 minute or 30 minutes. If you disable the ‘Show content in notifications’ option, WhatsApp will no longer show the sender and message preview when you have Fingerprint lock feature enabled.

Google Assistant gains the ability to read and reply to messages from third-party apps.

Facebook to rename WhatsApp, Instagram

By Alex Heath for The Information

In a big shift, Facebook plans to signal its control of Instagram and WhatsApp by adding its name to both apps, according to three people familiar with the matter. The social network will rebrand the apps to “Instagram from Facebook” and “WhatsApp from Facebook,” the people said.

Employees for the apps were recently notified about the changes, which come as antitrust regulators are examining Facebook’s acquisitions of both apps. The app rebranding is a major departure for Facebook, which until recently had allowed the apps to operate and be branded independently. The distance has helped both apps avoid being tarnished by the privacy scandals that have hurt Facebook. The move to add Facebook’s name to the apps has been met with surprise and confusion internally, reflecting the autonomy that the units have operated under.

But Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also been frustrated that Facebook doesn’t get more credit for the growth of Instagram and WhatsApp. Associating those apps with Facebook could improve the overall companies’ brand with consumers.

Bertie Thomson, a Facebook spokeswoman, confirmed the branding change to Instagram and WhatsApp. “We want to be clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook,” she told The Information, noting that the company uses similar branding for other products like Workplace, its enterprise chat tool.

The ‘from Facebook’ branding will be visible inside the apps—users will see it when they log on, for instance—and elsewhere, such as in app stores.

Zuckerberg has in recent months rallied his lieutenants to unify the messaging systems behind the company’s apps, with the goal of allowing users to communicate across them. The company has also taken steps over the past year to exert more influence over both organizations. The co-founders of both WhatsApp and Instagram abruptly departed Facebook last year, and Zuckerberg has replaced them with veteran Facebook executives who now report to him.

In another sign that Facebook is bringing what employees internally refer to as its “family of apps” closer together, employees responsible for Instagram’s messaging feature called Direct were recently notified that they will report into the team behind Facebook’s standalone Messenger app, according to a person familiar with the matter. Thomson declined to comment.

Significant challenges

While the undertaking to connect the apps presents significant technical challenges, Facebook hopes that letting users message across its apps will open up more opportunities for e-commerce and keep users loyal to its messaging ecosystem.

Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 when the photo-sharing app had tens of millions of users and was growing quickly. Two years later, Facebook paid $22 billion to buy the messaging service WhatsApp, which at the time had 600 million monthly users. The deals cemented Facebook’s dominance in the global social media landscape, and both apps play an increasingly important role in Facebook’s future growth prospects. Both apps now have more than 1 billion users. Instagram has been estimated to be worth more than $100 billion if it were a standalone company.

Internal Facebook research has recently shown that WhatsApp and Messenger compete for user attention, and that Facebook users are increasingly also sharing to Instagram and WhatsApp, The Information previously reported. Of all the Facebook apps, the research showed that Instagram was growing the fastest globally while overall engagement for the Facebook app was flat in 2018 after falling the year prior.

Facebook recently confirmed that it’s under antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, and recent reports by The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg said regulators are specifically examining the social network’s history of acquisitions and whether they were defensive moves to stifle competition. The Department of Justice has also recently said that it’s beginning a broad antitrust probe of large tech companies.

While studies show that Facebook’s brand has been tarnished by its many privacy scandals, and that users are increasingly becoming more aware of the firm’s data collection practices, Instagram and WhatsApp have largely remained unscathed. Two 2018 surveys conducted by the privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo found that more than half of Americans didn’t know Facebook owned Instagram or WhatsApp.

By Jasper Hamill for The Metro 

WhatsApp has promised to take legal action against people or companies who break its rules – even if the ‘abuse’ took place on another platform. The messaging app has strict guidelines governing its own users’ behaviour and anyone who breaks the terms of service can already be hit by a ban.

But now the Facebook-owned company wants to take things a bit further by hauling users into court. And you don’t need to break the rules on WhatsApp itself to find yourself in trouble, because its enforcers will strike even they find ‘off platform-evidence of abuse’.

It wrote: ‘WhatsApp is committed to using the resources at its disposal – including legal action – to prevent abuse that violates our terms of service, such as automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use. ‘This is why in addition to technological enforcement, we also take legal action against individuals or companies that we link to on-platform evidence of such abuse.

WhatsApp reserves its right to continue taking legal action in such circumstances.’

If you want to keep a WhatsApp account and not get sued, you might want to avoid using bots to send spam – which is known as automated or bulk messaging. The app has said that anyone who leaves off-platform evidence of abuse after December 7, 2019, will find themselves in its crosshairs.

WhatsApp added: ‘Beginning on December 7, 2019, WhatsApp will take legal action against those we determine are engaged in or assisting others in abuse that violates our Terms of Service, such as automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use, even if that determination is based on information solely available to us off our platform.

‘For example, off-platform information includes public claims from companies about their ability to use WhatsApp in ways that violate our Terms. This serves as notice that we will take legal action against companies for which we only have off-platform evidence of abuse if that abuse continues beyond December 7, 2019, or if those companies are linked to on-platform evidence of abuse before that date.

‘We are committed to reinforcing the private nature of our platform and keeping users safe from abuse.’

WhatsApp is hacked

Source: BBC

WhatsApp has confirmed that a security flaw in the app let attackers install spy software on their targets’ smartphones.

That has left many of its 1.5-billion users wondering how safe the “simple and secure” messaging app really is.

On Wednesday, chip-maker Intel confirmed that new problems discovered with some of its processors could reveal secret information to attacks.

How trustworthy are apps and devices?

Was WhatsApp’s encryption broken? No. Messages on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted, meaning they are scrambled when they leave the sender’s device. The messages can be decrypted by the recipient’s device only.

That means law enforcement, service providers and cyber-criminals cannot read any messages they intercept as they travel across the internet.

However, there are some caveats.

Messages can be read before they are encrypted or after they are decrypted. That means any spyware dropped on the phone by an attacker could read the messages.

What is encryption?
On Tuesday, news site Bloomberg published an opinion article calling WhatsApp’s encryption “pointless”, given the security breach.

However, that viewpoint has been widely ridiculed by cyber-security experts.

“I don’t think it’s helpful to say end-to-end encryption is pointless just because a vulnerability is occasionally found,” said Dr Jessica Barker from the cyber-security company Cygenta.

“Encryption is a good thing that does offer us protection in most cases.”

Cyber-security is often a game of cat and mouse.

End-to-end encryption makes it much harder for attackers to read messages, even if they do eventually find a way to access some of them.

What about back-ups?
WhatsApp gives the option to back up chats to Google Drive or iCloud but those back-up copies are not protected by the end-to-end encryption.

An attacker could access old chats if they broke into a cloud storage account.

How to stay safe on WhatsApp
WhatsApp discovers ‘targeted’ surveillance attack
Of course, even if users decide not to back up chats, the people they message may still upload a copy to their cloud storage.

Should people stop using WhatsApp?
Ultimately, any app could contain a security vulnerability that leaves a phone open to attackers.

WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, which typically issues software fixes quickly.

Of course, even large companies can make mistakes and Facebook has had its share of data and privacy breaches over the years.

There is no guarantee a rival chat app would not experience a similar security lapse.

At least, following the disclosure of this flaw, WhatsApp is slightly more secure than it was a week ago.

Signal is an open-source project
Some rival chat apps are open-source projects, which means anybody can look at the code powering the app and suggest improvements.

“Open-source software has its value in that it be can tested more widely but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more secure,” said Dr Barker.

“Vulnerabilities can still be found with any tech, so it’s not the answer to our prayers.”

And if someone did decide to switch to a rival chat app, they would still have to convince their contacts to do the same. A chat app without friends is not much use.

Is any device ever safe?
In theory, any device or service could be hacked. In fact, security researchers often joyfully pile in on companies that claim their products are “unhackable”.

They quickly discover vulnerabilities and the embarrassed companies retract their claims.

If people are worried data may be stolen from their computer, one option is to “air gap” the device: disconnect it from the internet entirely.

That stops remote hackers accessing the machine – but even an air gap would not stop an attacker with physical access to the device.

Dr Barker stressed the importance of installing software updates for apps and operating systems.

“WhatsApp pushed out an update and consumers might not have realised that security fixes are often included in updates,” she told BBC News.

WhatsApp did not help the cause, however, by describing the latest update as adding “full-size stickers”, and not mentioning the security breach.

“People need to be made aware that updates are really important. The quicker we can update our apps, the more secure we are,” said Dr Barker.

As always, there are simple security steps to remember:

  • Install app and operating system security updates
  • Use a different password for every app or service
  • Where possible, enable two-step authentication to stop attackers logging in to accounts
  • Be careful about what apps you download
  • Do not click links in emails or messages you are not expecting

By Dalvin Brown for USA Today

Facebook kicked off its annual developer conference on Tuesday where the tech giant announced the big changes coming to its family of apps.

At the multi-day conference, the social networking giant unveiled a redesign for Facebook, updates for Instagram and a new dating feature called Secret Crush. Facebook also said Messenger will eventually take up less of your smartphone’s storage and the company says it’s diving deeper into the world of augmented reality.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Facebook redesign

Facebook is overhauling the mobile app for the fifth time ever.

The company is calling the redesign “FB5,” and it will roll out over the next few months. One of the most visible changes so far is the elimination of the big blue bar at the top of the screen that Facebook has been known for.

The company is also reinventing the way users engage with Groups and Events.

Groups will be easier to find and easier to participate in, Facebook said in a blog post.

The tech giant also said that the social networking app is home to tens of millions of active groups that users find “meaningful.”

“With this in mind, we’re rolling out a fresh new design for Facebook that’s simpler and puts your communities at the center. We’re also introducing new tools that will help make it easier for you to discover and engage with groups of people who share your interests,” Facebook said in a blog post.

There’s also a fresh Events tab that will make it easier for users to see what’s going on around them, discover local businesses and get recommendations.

Instagram updates

The photo-sharing app has a new camera mode, and it’s testing out features to “lead the fight against bullying.”

Create Mode will let you create a post for Stories that isn’t a photo or video, something that is sure to be popular with users who want to add text to a solid color background. The camera in Instagram Stories is also becoming easier to spot as it has been hard to figure out for some users.

Another new feature will enable any influencer or celebrity to tag an article of clothing they’re wearing so followers can buy them within the Instagram app.

Instagram is also running a beta test to hide the like count from photos and view count from videos in an effort to get users to pay attention to the content itself and not engagement metrics that often cause people to compare themselves to others.

Instagram said that the “private likes” test would begin later this week for users in Canada.

Messenger changes
Facebook Messenger’s mobile app is getting smaller.

The company said it’s creating a new version that will use less of your smartphone’s battery power and take up less than 30MB of storage. The new app will also launch faster, in under 2 seconds to be exact, Facebook said.

Messenger will also be available on the desktop.

“People want to seamlessly message from any device, and sometimes they just want a little more space to share and connect with the people they care about most,” Facebook said in a statement.

WhatsApp for Business

The private messenger isn’t changing much.

The only notable addition is a new Catalogs for a business feature that’s launching in the months ahead. With that feature, people will be able to see what’s available from businesses participating in WhatsApp Business when the feature rolls out later this year.

“This is going to be especially important for all of the small businesses out there that don’t have a web presence, and that are increasingly using private social platforms is their main way of interacting with their customers,” said Zuckerberg onstage.

AR and VR expansion
Zuckerberg also announced that Oculus will start shipping two new virtual-reality headsets, the Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest, later in May. Each will cost $399.

Pre-orders for both headsets begin immediately.

Facebook also relaunched Oculus for Business with the intention of supporting an ecosystem of business administrators, developers and end users. Oculus for Business is designed to streamline and expand virtual reality in the workplace.

Look out for these five WhatsApp scams

By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband

WhatsApp has become the most prominent messaging platform across many parts of the world, offering a range of features which enable faster and more convenient communication.

The application also boasts impressive security, with end-to-end encryption delivering secure communication.

Due to its high rate of adoption, however, it has also become a targeted platform for scammers and attacks which aim to either compromise the user’s details or infect their device with malware.

The nature of these scams and attacks is constantly evolving, but we have listed five of the most prominent and dangerous scams currently in circulation below.

SIM-swop takeover
SIM-swop fraud is one of the biggest threats to South African WhatsApp users, considering the meteoric rise in the number of cases reported over the last year.

By committing SIM-swop fraud and taking ownership of your number, a user can easily and instantly install WhatsApp on their own smartphone and log in with your account.

The two-factor authentication message will be sent to the number used to log in, which the attacker will now have access to.

From here, they can easily scam your contacts to divulge information or send them money by impersonating you.

This type of attack is also a serious threat to the security of platforms which use SMS two-factor authentication – including many banking apps.

Users should check immediately with their cellphone provider if reception on their cellphone is lost for no apparent reason, as this is the first sign that SIM-swop fraud has been committed.

Verification request
This type of scam is spread through compromised accounts, and usually comes from a known contact who has had their account compromised.

Victims will receive a message from a user in their WhatsApp contact list who asks them to send them their WhatsApp verification code.

If they do this, scammers will have access to everything they need to access the user’s Whatsapp account and will take over their number.

From the compromised profile, scammers will either ask the victim’s contacts for verification codes to access their profile or they will pose as the victim and ask for mobile money payments.

The easiest way to avoid this scam is to never divulge your WhatsApp verification code and be wary about sending your contacts money if they are acting strangely over WhatsApp.

WhatsApp Gold
WhatsApp Gold is a well-known hoax which has been around for years, although it still seems to resurface occasionally and catches out many people.

The scam is a simple phishing attack which comprises hoax messages stating that WhatsApp has launched a new upgraded messaging service called WhatsApp Gold.

Often this premium version is advertised as free and including features such as new themes and free voice calls.

The message contains a link to download the “latest secret update” for WhatsApp Gold, which actually leads to malicious software being installed on the victim’s device.

This malware could do anything from steal your information to spy on your messages and communications.

Avoiding scams like this is easy if you follow best practices and never click on unknown links or download unverified software onto your device.

Phishing with vouchers
This is similar to the WhatsApp Gold scam, but these messages are usually sent from a number impersonating a fake contact.

The message generally states that users have won a free voucher for a local supermarket in return for them filling in a short survey.

However, the link contained in this message goes to a fake website which impersonates the supermarket’s web page.

Once users have entered their details into this website, their information has been compromised and is fed straight to the scammers.

WhatsApp is not the only platform where this scam takes place, as this is one of the most widespread and organised types of scams operating around the world.

Malicious spy apps
During your online browsing or within a WhatsApp message, you may find a link to download a WhatsApp “spy app”.

These applications claim to be able to see what your contacts are saying to each other, along with giving you the ability to intercept their pictures, voice messages, and images.

Of course there is no way to intercept WhatsApp messages in this way as all conversations are end-to-end encrypted.

Instead, these applications usually either install malware on the victim’s device or sign them up to subscription content services which charge exorbitant fees.

It is also important to realise that the Google Play Store is not infallible and can contain many malware-infested “WhatsApp Spy” apps.

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