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WhatsApp Users to Get Ability to Control Online Presence, Leave Groups Silently, and More: All Details

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WhatsApp has announced new privacy features that are said to give users “more control over their conversations and added layers of protection when messaging.” The three new privacy features include exit group chats without notifying everyone, control who can see when you’re online, and prevent screenshots on view once messages. The Meta-owned company said that it is also starting a campaign to educate people about the new features. WhatsApp already provides other privacy features, including the end-to-end encryption messaging and calling for individuals and businesses.

Meta CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that WhatsApp is bringing three new privacy features to users: exit group chats without notifying everyone, control who can see when you’re online, and prevent screenshots on view once messages. “We’ll keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. The privacy features are available for both iOS and Android users.

Leave Groups Silently: This feature will allow users to exit a group privately without having to notify everyone, except the admins. Currently, when you leave a group, everyone in the group is notified via a bubble saying “[your name/ number] left”. This feature will start to roll out to all users this month.

Choose Who Can See When You’re Online: WhatsApp is introducing the ability that will allow users to select who can and cannot see when you’re online. This feature is useful especially in situations when you want to check your messages in private. For example, you have multiple friends messaging you about a weekend plan but you haven’t decided yet and haven’t responded to those texts. When you check other messages on WhatsApp, your friends will be able to see that you are “Online” and not replying, essentially landing you on a sticky wicket.

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With the latest WhatsApp feature, you can keep your online presence private. It will start rolling out to all users this month.

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Screenshot Blocking for View Once Messages: This feature is essentially an extension of the “View Once” feature of WhatsApp. People usually try to keep a record of their conversations even when the “View Once” feature is active on their phones. Since the “View Once” feature does not allow a permanent digital record, users tend to take screenshots. The new feature is enabling screenshot blocking for “View Once” messages for an added layer of protection. The feature is being tested and will be rolled out to users soon.

To support the effectiveness of these new privacy features, WhatsApp noted that they found that 72 percent of people value being able to speak in an honest, unfiltered way, but more than 47 percent are only comfortable doing this in a safe, private space. “They are particularly cautious online, ranking privacy in their private messages as most important — compared to emails, texts or social media,” WhatsApp said. It added that 51 percent prefer to stay hidden online to choose who they want to talk to and 91 percent of people who are aware of blocking features believe they are important.

These new privacy features are in addition to the already present protections offered on WhatsApp. The platform offers default end-to-end protection for calls and messages, disappearing messages that self-destruct, end-to-end encrypted backups when you want to save your chat history, 2-step verification for added security, and the ability to block and report unwanted chats.

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WhatsApp also said that it is kicking off a campaign to educate people about the new features. “…to spread the word about these new features, we’re also kicking off a global campaign, starting with the UK and India, to educate people about how we work to protect their private conversations on WhatsApp,” said Ami Vora, Head of Product at WhatsApp.


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Facebook, Instagram Integration Improved With Deeper Account Centre Integration by Meta

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Facebook and Instagram are set to offer better integration as parent company Meta announced it is testing a deeper integration across both platforms. The firm has revealed two updates that include a new user interface for the Accounts Center feature across mobile and Web platforms, and a redesigned login and onboarding experience on its mobile apps. The tests include two new features that are intended to make it easier for users to switch between and create new accounts and profiles on Facebook and Instagram. The company is also testing allowing users to receive notifications for both Facebook and Instagram profiles in the same place.

In an announcement on its blog, Meta revealed that the new interface is currently in testing and allows existing users who have added their Instagram and Facebook credentials to the same Account Center, to switch between the two apps without navigating to their phone’s home screen, multitasking menu, or app drawer. Meanwhile, a redesigned mobile login and onboarding experience being tested allows iOS and Android users to sign in or create multiple accounts from a single Instagram or Facebook credential.

Meta also confirmed that existing security features will continue to apply to the updates that include blocking unrecognized devices from using interoperating login credentials for Instagram and Facebook accounts that have the two-factor authentication feature turned on for either of the accounts.

Users will also be notified of any account activity across Facebook and Instagram accounts on a single Accounts Center section including the creation of a newly linked Facebook or Instagram account, according to the company.

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Meta says it is now testing the new user interface on iOS, Android, and the Web while the login and onboarding workflow redesign is being tested on iOS and Android. The company adds that both features are being tested across the globe. The new features are “currently limited to Facebook and Instagram,” Meta said.

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The updates have arrived post the introduction of Meta accounts in August of this year and a recently reported downturn in both revenue and user growth for the American social-media giant.


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Instagram Story Time Limit Increased to 60 Seconds: Report

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Instagram is reportedly increasing the time limit for Instagram Stories to 60 seconds, from the earlier limit of 15 seconds. Previously, Instagram Stories that were longer than 15 seconds would be broken up into separate segments. The social media company is said to have begun testing the change with select users towards the end of last year. Earlier this month, Instagram rolled out parental supervision tools and Family Center in India. Meta had announced the parental supervision tools and the Family Center tool back in March. The company was recently slapped with EUR 405 million (roughly Rs. 3,200 crore) fine for violating strict European Union data privacy rules.

According to a recent report by TechCrunch, Instagram confirmed that it is increasing the time limit of Instagram stories to 60 seconds from the earlier limit of 15 seconds. Previously, if a user had posted a video longer than 15 seconds, it used to get broken up into smaller segments. This made the process of uploading videos to Instagram Stories more challenging, including tagging and mentioning other users.

As mentioned earlier, Instagram is said to have begun testing the new change with select users towards the end of last year.

Earlier this month, Instagram also rolled out parental supervision tools and Family Center in India. The Family Center is a place for parents and guardians to access supervision tools and resources from leading experts. These tools will let them see the screen time spent by their kids on Instagram and impose time limits. The new parental controls are part of Meta’s attempts to protect children who actively use its social media apps.

See also  Instagram Provides Tips on How to Maximize Customer Engagement with Instagram Stories [Infographic]

Instagram was recently slapped with a EUR 405 million (roughly Rs. 3,200 crore) fine for violating strict European Union data privacy rules. The Meta-owned social media platform was found mishandling the personal information of teenagers. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission’s investigation revealed that Instagram displayed the personal information of users between the age of 13 and 17 years. Instagram’s parent Meta said it disagrees with the way the fine was calculated and has expressed its desire to appeal the fine imposed by the regulator.

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Elon Musk, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal Said to Postpone Depositions Ahead of Upcoming Trial

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk won a reprieve from questioning by Twitter lawyers Monday, according to several press reports. The billionaire had been scheduled to give a deposition in his high-stakes court fight with Twitter over whether he has to follow through with his agreement to buy the social platform for $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,37,465 crore).

Instead, Musk’s questioning was postponed to a future date. Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, who was also scheduled to face Musk lawyers on Monday, likewise postponed his deposition, according to a person who was briefed on the matter.

The Musk postponement was reported by Bloomberg, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, all of which attributed the information to anonymous sources.

News of the postponements fueled a brief rally in Twitter shares, which jumped 5.4 percent to $43.03 (roughly Rs. 3,500), apparently on hopes of a settlement in the case. That enthusiasm waned later in the day. Twitter shares closed Monday at $41.58 (roughly Rs. 3,300), eight cents higher than they opened.

Court watchers said that such postponements are not unusual ahead of major pretrial hearings. A hearing on several significant pretrial motions is scheduled for Tuesday.

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Both men were expected to answer questions posed by opposing lawyers ahead of an October trial that will determine who is at fault for the seeming collapse of Musk’s Twitter bid, not to mention who owes whom large sums of money as a result. The trial is set to begin October 17 in Delaware Chancery Court, where it’s scheduled to last just five days.

Musk, the world’s richest man, agreed in April to buy Twitter and take it private, offering $54.20 (roughly Rs. 4,180) a share and vowing to loosen the company’s policing of content and to root out fake accounts. In July, he attempted to back out of the deal, leveling a number of charges at Twitter as justification for his action.

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Twitter subsequently sued Musk to force him to complete the acquisition.


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