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Facebook Working on End-to-End Encrypted Chat Backups on Messenger: All Details

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Facebook plans to test a new secure storage feature for end-to-end encrypted chats on Messenger, the company announced on Thursday. Additionally, the company has also revealed new tests and updates to end-to-end-encrypted chats on Messenger and Instagram that will be rolled out over the coming weeks. Meta, formerly known as Facebook, said that with the new security feature, users will be able to safely back up their end-to-end encrypted chat history. The company also claims that these messages will not be accessible to Facebook.

In an official blog post, Facebook has revealed plans to test a secure storage feature for end-to-end encrypted chats on Messenger that will allow users to back up their encrypted chats. The company said that this feature will come in handy in case a user loses their smartphone. Users will have the ability to retrieve their messages from end-to-end encrypted chats on Messenger, according to Facebook. The company also claims that Facebook will not have access to these chats, unless a user reports it.

Facebook said that secure storage will be the default way to store the messages from end-to-end encrypted chats in Messenger. Users will have multiple options for restoring their chats. Facebook will allow users to create a security pin or a code, which the user will have to save, to back up their end-to-end encrypted chats. Messenger users will have the option to secure the security code or pin via third-party cloud services, like iCloud. The company also said this method of securing the code or pin will not be encrypted.

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This week, Facebook will start testing the secure storage feature for end-to-end encrypted chats on Messenger on Android and iOS. The company said that the feature is currently not available for the web version of Facebook Messenger and Messenger for desktop. It is also not available for chats that are not end-to-end encrypted.

Additionally, Facebook has also announced more tests and updates for end-to-end encrypted chats on Messenger and Instagram. The new tests and updates will start rolling out over the next few weeks, according to the company. Facebook said that deleted messages will soon start to sync across devices for end-to-end encrypted chats.

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The company will also start testing the unsend messages feature, reply to Facebook Stories feature, and other ways to access end-to-end encrypted messages and calls. Facebook will also integrate the encrypted messages feature to Ray-Ban Stories that will allow users to send end-to-end encrypted hands-free messages to others.

Facebook also unveiled an open-source web browser extension called Code Verify, which is available on Google Chrome, FireFox, and Microsoft Edge. It is said to automatically verify the code while using Facebook Messenger. Facebook released the Code Verify extension to protect WhatsApp chats back in March. This week, Facebook will start testing the default end-to-end encrypted chats between some users.

The company is removing ‘Vanish Mode’ from Messenger. Users will now have access to the disappearing messages feature. Facebook said that the Vanish Mode on Instagram is not end-to-end encrypted, and will be still accessible to users.

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Facebook will soon expand the test for opt-in end-to-end encrypted messages and calls on Instagram. The test was earlier available only for adults in select regions. The company will add users from more countries, while adding functionality like group chats. It will also be available to everyone, and not just adults.

Facebook further said, “We will continue to provide updates as we make progress toward the global rollout of default end-to-end encryption for personal messages and calls in 2023.”

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US Senate Panel Approves Bill Empowering News Organisations to Negotiate With Facebook, Google for Revenue

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The US Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to approve a bill aimed at allowing news organizations to band together to negotiate with Alphabet’s Google and Meta’s Facebook and win more revenue.

The bill passed the committee by a vote of 15 to 7, according to a congressional aide. It must now go to the Senate for their approval. A similar bill is before the US House of Representatives.

The bill is aimed at giving news and broadcast organisations more clout after years of criticism that big tech companies use their content to attract traffic and ad revenue without fairly compensating the publishers, many of which struggle financially.

The bill, led by Democrat Amy Klobuchar, attracted some Republican support, with Senators John Kennedy and Lindsey Graham sponsoring it. Other Democrats, like Senator Alex Padilla, expressed reservations about it.

The bill hit a speed bump earlier this month when Senator Ted Cruz won backing for a plan to include provisions to address what he considers the platforms stifling conservative voices.

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On Thursday Klobuchar won support for an amendment that specified that prices for use of content was the issue.

“The goal of the bill is to allow local news organisations to get compensation when major titans, monopolies like Facebook and Google, access their content,” she said at a committee session to vote on the bill.

Unlike other bills aimed at reining in big tech, some progressive groups oppose this measure, including Public Knowledge, on the grounds that it favors big broadcasters like News Corp, Sinclair, and Comcast/NBCU.

Also opposing the bill are two technology industry trade groups that Facebook and Google belong to: the Computer & Communications Industry Association and NetChoice.

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© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Buying an affordable 5G smartphone today usually means you will end up paying a “5G tax”. What does that mean for those looking to get access to 5G networks as soon as they launch? Find out on this week’s episode. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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WhatsApp Working to Keep Iranians Connected Amid Widespread Internet Shutdown Over Nationwide Protests

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Meta Platforms’ WhatsApp said on Thursday that it was working to keep users in Iran connected after the country restricted access to the app and social media platform Instagram.

WhatsApp “will do anything” within its technical capacity to keep the service accessible and that it was not blocking Iranian phone numbers, the messaging service said in a tweet.

We exist to connect the world privately. We stand with the rights of people to access private messaging. We are not blocking Iranian numbers. We are working to keep our Iranian friends connected and will do anything within our technical capacity to keep our service up and running

— WhatsApp (@WhatsApp) September 22, 2022

Iran on Wednesday restricted access to Instagram and WhatsApp, two of the last remaining social networks in the country, amid protests over the death of a woman in police custody, according to residents and internet watchdog NetBlocks.

Last week’s death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police in Tehran for “unsuitable attire”, has unleashed anger over issues including freedom in the Islamic Republic and an economy reeling from sanctions.

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Protesters in Tehran and other Iranian cities torched police stations and vehicles earlier on Thursday as public outrage over the death showed no signs of abating, with reports of security forces coming under attack.

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that the country had imposed a near-total Internet blackout on Wednesday on the fifth day of protests against the government over Amini’s death, after she was held by the country’s morality police for allegedly violating its strictly-enforced dress code.

Previously, a government official had hinted that security concerns might prompt measures to restrict internet access. As previously mentioned, Instagram and WhatsApp were the last major social media networks operating in Iran.

The country currently blocks Facebook, Telegram, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and WhatsApp. However, top Iranian officials have access to public accounts on these platforms, while Iranians are able to access these services using virtual private networks and proxies, according to the report.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Buying an affordable 5G smartphone today usually means you will end up paying a “5G tax”. What does that mean for those looking to get access to 5G networks as soon as they launch? Find out on this week’s episode. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen Launches ‘Beyond the Screen’ Organisation to Tackle Social Media Harms

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Whistleblower Frances Haugen – a former Facebook engineer who leaked documents suggesting the firm put profits before safety – on Thursday launched an organisation devoted to fighting harm caused by social media.

The new Beyond the Screen nonprofit said that its first project will be to document ways big tech is failing in its “legal and ethical obligations to society” and help come up with ways to solve those problems.

“We can have social media that brings out the best in us, and that’s what Beyond the Screen is working toward,” Haugen said in a statement.

“Beyond the Screen will focus on tangible solutions to help users gain control of our social media experience.”

Haugen last year leaked reams of internal studies showing executives knew of their site’s potential for harm, prompting a renewed US push for regulation.

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Haugen contended the tech titan, which has since rebranded itself as Meta, put profits over safety. Meta has fought back against the accusation.

Haugen’s nonprofit said it will collaborate with groups including Common Sense Media and Project Liberty that share a “commitment to supporting healthier social media.”

Beyond the Screen’s first project “represents a bold, inclusive, and much-needed effort to drive a seismic shift in how social media operates,” Project Liberty founder Frank McCourt said, according to Beyond the Screen’s statement.

“We look forward to working with Frances and her team to launch this new initiative and advance our shared goal of enabling healthier digital communities and stopping harmful business models.”

Since leaving Facebook in 2021, Haugen has advocated in the US and other countries for legislation meant to make social media platforms safer, particularly for young people.

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Buying an affordable 5G smartphone today usually means you will end up paying a “5G tax”. What does that mean for those looking to get access to 5G networks as soon as they launch? Find out on this week’s episode. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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