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Government Forced Twitter to Put Agent on Payroll, Former Twitter Executive Claims: Report

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A former Twitter security chief has alleged in a complaint with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DoJ), that the Indian government compelled the microblogging service to place a government agent on its staff, according to a report. The security expert has also alleged that Twitter prioritised user growth over reducing spam on the service, and that its claims of having a “solid security plan” violated a 11-year-old settlement with the FTC. 

According to a report by The Washington Post, which published a redacted copy of the complaint, former Twitter security chief and popular hacker Peiter ‘Mudge’ Zatko has alleged that the company had been “forced” by the Indian government to put one of its agents on the company’s payroll. The whistleblower claims that this gave the government access to user data when “intense protests” were taking place in the country, according to the report, which states that information to support the claim has been sent to the US DoJ and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. 

Gadgets 360 has reached out to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Twitter for comment and this article will be updated once a response is received. 

Zatko has also claimed that Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal had wrongfully claimed that the firm was “strongly incentivized to detect and remove as much spam as we possibly can,” according to the report.

The complaint alleges that Twitter employees had “wide-ranging and poorly tracked” access to important software that resulted in hacks of well-known accounts such as former US President Barack Obama, and Elon Musk, according to the report. The Tesla CEO is currently in a legal tussle with Twitter over his $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,51,300 crore) bid to acquire the microblogging service. 

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A US court convicted a former Twitter employee on charges of spying for Saudi Arabia, earlier this month. According to a report by the Associated Press, Ahmad Abouammo, a US citizen and former media partnership manager for Twitter’s Middle East region was found guilty of failing to register as an agent for Saudi Arabia after accessing private data on users critical of the Saudi government. 

See also  Twitter Leads in Child Abuse Content on Social Media: Report

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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.

See also  Government Blocked 94 YouTube Channels, 19 Social Media Accounts in 2021-22 for Spreading Fake News

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  Meta’s First-Generation AR Glasses Tipped to Arrive in 2024 Will Be for Developers Only: Report

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.

See also  Twitter Leads in Child Abuse Content on Social Media: Report

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


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