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In a recent online exchange, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk targeted Meta-owned WhatsApp, alleging that the messaging app misuses user data by exporting it every night. Musk’s comments came in response to a post by an X (formerly Twitter) user who claimed that WhatsApp analyzes and uses this data for targeted advertising, effectively turning users into products rather than customers.

“WhatsApp exports your user data every night,” Musk stated, adding, “Some people still think it is secure.” His remarks have ignited a fresh wave of scrutiny and debate over the privacy practices of the popular messaging service.

As of now, Meta or WhatsApp have not responded to Musk’s allegations. However, John Carmack, a renowned computer programmer and video game developer, weighed in on the discussion. Carmack questioned the veracity of Musk’s claims, asking whether there is any evidence that the content of messages is scanned or transmitted. “I assume usage patterns and routing metadata are collected, and if you invoke a bot in a conversation, you are obviously opening it up, but I am still under the impression that the message contents are secure by default,” Carmack posted on X.

Musk’s criticisms of WhatsApp are part of a broader rivalry between him and Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The tension between the two tech moguls is well-documented, with Musk frequently taking jabs at Zuckerberg and his company’s business practices. Earlier this month, Musk accused Meta of being “super greedy” by taking undue credit for advertisers’ campaigns on its platform.

The ongoing feud between Musk and Zuckerberg has even led to talks of a physical showdown. The proposed “cage fight” between the two billionaires, dubbed the fight of the century, captured the public’s imagination but ultimately never materialized.

Musk’s latest salvo against WhatsApp highlights the persistent concerns about data privacy and security in the digital age. While WhatsApp has long touted its end-to-end encryption as a key feature ensuring message privacy, Musk’s comments suggest that users should be wary of how their data is handled behind the scenes. This incident underscores the need for greater transparency and accountability from tech giants regarding their data practices.

As users continue to grapple with the implications of their online privacy, the debate sparked by Musk’s allegations serves as a reminder of the complex and often opaque nature of data management by major tech companies. Whether Meta will address these claims remains to be seen, but the conversation around data security and user privacy is unlikely to dissipate anytime soon.

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WhatsApp, along with its parent company Meta (formerly Facebook Inc.), has taken legal action against India’s Information Technology Rules, enacted in 2021, which mandate social media intermediaries to trace chats and identify the initial source of information. Represented by legal counsel in the Delhi High Court, WhatsApp expressed concerns that compliance with the rules would necessitate breaking encryption, jeopardizing its ability to operate within India.

A bench led by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan has slated the case for further deliberation on August 14.

In a pivotal moment during the hearing, WhatsApp’s lawyer asserted that adherence to the regulations would compel the messaging platform to cease operations in India. This stance underscores the gravity with which WhatsApp views the potential impact of compromising encryption on its service.

The crux of WhatsApp’s challenge lies in its objection to an amendment requiring social media intermediaries to disclose the originator of information, contending that such a mandate infringes upon user privacy and was introduced without adequate consultation.

Highlighting the global context, WhatsApp’s legal representation emphasized the absence of a similar regulation elsewhere, citing Brazil as an example.

Conversely, the Indian government has stood firm on the necessity of enabling authorities to trace the origin of messages, citing national security imperatives outlined in the 2021 IT Rules.

Responding to the ongoing legal dispute, a WhatsApp spokesperson affirmed the company’s commitment to user privacy and expressed a willingness to collaborate with the Indian government on solutions that ensure public safety while respecting privacy rights.

However, the encryption dilemma poses a formidable challenge for WhatsApp, given its reliance on end-to-end encryption, which is fundamental to user trust and privacy protection.

The debate surrounding encryption extends beyond India’s borders, with global legal authorities and law enforcement agencies advocating for access to encrypted data in certain circumstances to combat crimes such as deepfakes, child exploitation, and misinformation.

The legal battle over India’s IT Rules reflects broader tensions between regulatory imperatives and tech companies’ commitment to privacy and security. As the case unfolds, it carries significant implications for digital rights and the future of online privacy in India.

Moreover, the Supreme Court’s decision to consolidate various challenges to the IT Rules underscores the widespread legal scrutiny and underscores the complexity of navigating regulatory frameworks in the digital age.

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Meta, the parent company of popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has quietly introduced its AI-powered chatbot on WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger in India and several parts of Africa. This feature is gradually rolling out for both iOS and Android users, potentially powered by Llama 2 or the upcoming Llama 3 AI models.

Users can access the chatbot through the top search bar in the WhatsApp user interface. Interestingly, the design of the chatbot closely resembles that of Perplexity AI, as noted by Aravind Srinivas, the CEO of Perplexity AI, in a post on X. Despite the similarity in appearance, the integration operates independently, ensuring the privacy of private conversations on WhatsApp. User interactions with the search bar remain confidential and are not shared with Meta AI unless explicitly directed to the chatbot.

Meta AI suggests topics through the search bar or conversation, utilizing randomly generated suggestions that do not rely on user-specific information. The search bar retains its primary function, enabling users to search for chats, messages, media, and contacts within the app. Users can continue to search their conversations for specific content without engaging with Meta AI, preserving ease of use and privacy.

Moreover, personal messages and calls on WhatsApp remain end-to-end encrypted, ensuring that neither WhatsApp nor Meta can access them, even with the integration of Meta AI.

Meta’s expansion of AI initiatives follows the advancements made by prominent tech companies like OpenAI. After piloting its AI chatbot in markets such as the U.S., Meta is now extending testing to India, its largest market with over 500 million Facebook and WhatsApp users.

In addition, Meta has confirmed plans to release its next AI model, Llama 3, within the current month, indicating the company’s commitment to advancing AI technology and improving user experiences across its platforms.

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Global outage affecting users globally, Meta Platforms, the parent company of social media giants Facebook, Instagram, and messaging app WhatsApp, experienced service disruptions. The incident left millions of users unable to access their accounts, triggering concerns about potential cyber attacks and hacking.

Service Disruptions:
The outage, which began around 8:30 PM on Tuesday, impacted users in various parts of the world, including India. Users reported issues such as being logged out of their accounts, inability to refresh feeds, and prompts to change passwords. Meta’s status dashboard indicated problems with the WhatsApp Business API as well, with around 200 reported outages for WhatsApp.

Extent of Outage:
Outage tracking website Downdetector.com recorded over 300,000 outage reports for Facebook and more than 20,000 for Instagram. The disruptions raised alarm among users, many of whom took to social media platforms to express their frustration and speculate about potential cyber attacks.

Meta’s Response:
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone acknowledged the issues in a post on X (formerly Twitter), stating, “We’re aware people are having trouble accessing our services. We are working on this now.” The company actively worked to address the disruptions and restore normal service.

Elon Musk’s Jest:
Notorious for his wit on social media, X owner Elon Musk took a humorous jab at Meta during the outage, posting, “If you’re reading this post, it’s because our servers are working.” Musk’s comment added a touch of humor to the situation, drawing attention from netizens.

User Concerns and Reactions:
As users grappled with the service disruptions, concerns about hacking and cyber attacks circulated. Many users on X expressed their worries about potential security breaches, with some changing passwords multiple times in an attempt to secure their accounts.

Global Impact and Memes:
The outage prompted a flurry of memes and comments on social media platforms, with some users poking fun at Meta owner Mark Zuckerberg. Memes related to Zuckerberg’s recent visit to India for a pre-wedding event hosted by Mukesh Ambani’s family added a humorous dimension to the situation.

Resolution and Service Restoration:
Meta took prompt actions to resolve the issues, and services were gradually restored around 10 PM on Tuesday. The company assured users that it was actively addressing the problems, emphasizing its commitment to providing a reliable and secure online experience.

The outage highlighted the widespread reliance on Meta’s platforms for communication and connectivity, underscoring the need for robust measures to prevent and address such disruptions in the future.

#instagramdown #facebookdown #metadown #socialmedia

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Global tech giant Meta, known for platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, has raised concerns about the Indian government’s proposed telecom law. The worry stems from the possibility of the law extending its regulatory reach to over-the-top (OTT) applications, including messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal.

Regulatory Ambit: Meta is worried that the new Telecom Bill, presented in the Indian Parliament, could be used to regulate OTT services in the future. This includes internet apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram.

Internal Communication: Shivnath Thukral, Meta’s Director and Head of India Public Policy, shared these concerns in an internal email to colleagues. He highlighted the potential for the government to apply the legislation to OTT services at a later date.

Changes in the Bill: While the specific term ‘OTT’ has been removed from the current version of the legislation, concerns persist due to the expansive definitions of ‘telecommunication services’ and ‘messages’ in the bill.

Government Powers: The proposed law grants the government extensive powers, including the ability to intercept messages, establish encryption standards, and assume control over telecom networks.

Broader Definitions: Experts are cautious about the broad definitions in the bill, even though the reference to ‘OTT’ has been omitted.

Ongoing Debate: Meta’s concerns add to the ongoing debate around the balance between regulatory control and the freedom of internet applications in India.

As the Telecom Bill progresses through the legislative process, the tech industry and policymakers will continue to navigate discussions regarding regulatory frameworks, privacy, and the evolving landscape of digital communication in India.

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No More One Account For WhatsApp

WhatsApp, the go-to messaging platform for millions, is breaking free from its one-account-per-device tradition. Goodbye, annoying logouts! The Meta-owned instant messenger has announced a game-changer: Android users can now switch two active WhatsApp accounts simultaneously.

A Long-Awaited Leap

For too long, WhatsApp users were tethered to a single account on a single device. If you wanted to access another account, you had to bid farewell to your primary one. But not anymore. WhatsApp’s latest move is like a breath of fresh air. You can now have two accounts, each tied to a different phone number, without the fuss of logging in and out repeatedly.

Setting Up the Duo

To set up this dynamic duo, you’ll need a second phone number and SIM card, or a phone that supports multi-SIM or eSIM. In the WhatsApp settings, it’s as simple as tapping on your name, clicking “Add account,” and using that secondary number.  Switch instantly!

Privacy Tailored to You

Now, you get to control your accounts independently. Mute notifications on one, keep them lively on the other. It’s all about customization, fitting WhatsApp flawlessly into your work and personal life. Plus, it’s worth mentioning that your messages are still enfolded in that trusty end-to-end encryption.

Two in One, One Less Phone to Carry

This feature isn’t just about suitability; it’s an efficient step. Now, you can effortlessly toggle between your work and personal accounts, all on one device. Say goodbye to the hassle of carrying two phones. WhatsApp has got your back!

Stay on the Safe Side

WhatsApp reminds users to stick with the official app from the Google Play Store to enjoy these perks and avoid imitation apps. The iOS crowd, though, will have to hold their breath a bit longer, as WhatsApp hasn’t yet confirmed this feature for their devices.

WhatsApp’s Busy Week

WhatsApp is on a roll this week, showering users with a host of updates and features. They’re even testing a ‘view once’ mode for voice messages, aligning with their commitment to user experience.

In a world, where staying connected is everything, WhatsApp’s new multi-account feature is a game-changer. It’s about flexibility, simplicity, and making your life easier. So, embrace the change, and say hello to juggling two WhatsApp worlds with ease!

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Meta, the parent company overseeing the digital realm of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, is contemplating a significant stride in the Indian market. Reports have surfaced indicating that Meta is exploring the possibility of introducing an ad-free subscription plan for Indian users, potentially making it available as early as 2024. This bold move comes in the wake of similar considerations in the European Union, where Meta has been evaluating the prospect of monetizing its platforms on a global scale.

The plan that made waves last week proposes a subscription fee of $14 per month for accessing an ad-free version of Instagram or Facebook within the European Union. While this subscription model might seem like a new avenue, it is, in fact, part of Meta’s broader strategy to adapt to evolving tech regulations and the changing digital landscape.

In recent times, Meta, under the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg, has been grappling with the evolving tech regulations in India, which could potentially reshape the way the internet functions in the country. These regulatory shifts have spurred Meta to explore innovative monetization strategies while keeping data privacy and user experience at the forefront.

As part of its strategy to align with the newly enacted Digital Personal Data Privacy (DPDP) Act, Meta is engaged in robust discussions to ensure full compliance with data protection regulations in India. The introduction of a paid, ad-free subscription option is seen as a potential solution to balance revenue generation with user preferences and privacy concerns.

It’s noteworthy that Meta’s foray into ad-free subscriptions is not limited to a single region but rather signifies a global paradigm shift in how the company seeks to engage users. The planned pilot for this subscription model in India follows a trial period in the European Union and is expected to roll out sometime in mid- or late-2024.

As Meta continues to navigate the dynamic landscape of digital technology and regulations, the prospect of ad-free subscription options could mark a pivotal moment in its journey to ensure both user satisfaction and business sustainability. This innovative approach has the potential to reshape the digital advertising landscape and redefine the way users interact with these platforms.

The evolving scenario in India, coupled with Meta’s commitment to privacy and compliance, is set to usher in a new era of digital experiences for users on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. The coming years will undoubtedly witness the unfolding of Meta’s ambitious plans, making it a focal point in the ever-evolving digital ecosystem.

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