WhatsApp Tests Feature That Lets Users Share Their Status With Facebook and Other Apps

WhatsApp is testing a feature that enables users to share their WhatsApp Status posts over Facebook, Instagram, and other services.


WhatsApp's Status feature works a lot like Stories do in Instagram, in that users can use the option to stitch together photos and video to express themselves in a way words alone might not allow them to.

The idea behind WhatsApp Status sharing is that it will allow users to post their status directly to their Facebook story, Instagram Story, Gmail, Google Photos, or other service.

WhatsApp told The Verge that the sharing feature doesn't link accounts on the two services in any way, and instead transfers the data on-device using Android and iOS data-sharing APIs.

Even when sharing to another Facebook-owned service like Instagram, WhatsApp says the two posts remain separate events and are not associated in Facebook's systems.

Regardless of that explanation, relating the two platforms in the public consciousness has become a risky business for Facebook ever since it acquired WhatsApp in 2014.

The company said at the time that it wouldn't collect data from the end-to-end encrypted messaging service, but then two years later it began doing exactly that for ad-targeting purposes.

In 2016 the company had to end the collection of WhatsApp user data across Europe, including the phone number a user verifies during the registration process and the last time a user accessed the service, after privacy watchdogs slammed the practice and regulators demanded it be stopped.

Facebook was subsequently fined $122 million by the European Commission for misleading regulators during the merger review about the extent to which it could link accounts.


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WhatsApp Vulnerability Left iPhones Vulnerable to Israeli Spyware


WhatsApp today disclosed a vulnerability that allowed hackers to remotely install spyware on iOS and Android phones by exploiting a bug in the audio call feature of the app.

The vulnerability let spyware be installed on a target device when a call was initiated regardless of whether the call was answered, according to TechCrunch.

Hackers took advantage of this security flaw to install Israeli spyware called Pegasus from NSO Group, normally licensed to governments who purchase the spyware for installing on the devices of individuals who are the target of an investigation.
Description:A buffer overflow vulnerability in WhatsApp VOIP stack allowed remote code execution via specially crafted series of SRTCP packets sent to a target phone number.

Affected Versions: The issue affects WhatsApp for Android prior to v2.19.134, WhatsApp Business for Android prior to v2.19.44, WhatsApp for iOS prior to v2.19.51, WhatsApp Business for iOS prior to v2.19.51, WhatsApp for Windows Phone prior to v2.18.348, and WhatsApp for Tizen prior to v2.18.15.
WhatsApp says that it believes a small number of users were targeted, because it's "nontrivial to deploy, limiting it to advanced and highly motivated actors." It's not clear, though, how long the security flaw was available nor how many people were affected.

According to WhatsApp, once the vulnerability was discovered, it took less than 10 days to make changes to the app's infrastructure to make the attack inoperable.

"WhatsApp encourages people to upgrade to the latest version of our app, as well as keep their mobile operating system up to date, to protect against potential targeted exploits designed to compromise information stored on mobile devices," the company said in a statement to TechCrunch.

WhatsApp says that it has notified the Department of Justice and a "number of human rights organizations" about the issue. NSO Group, according to The Financial Times, says it is investigating the issue but while it vets its customers and investigates abuse, it has no involvement with how the code is used or where.

WhatsApp customers do not need to worry further about the exploit as it was updated server side on Friday with an additional patch released today.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Facebook Co-Founder Calls For ‘Break Up’ of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp

Recently, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren put forward the idea to reverse certain tech mergers to promote healthy competition in the market, particularly including Facebook and Instagram. In an op-ed shared today by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, that topic is revisited (via The New York Times).


According to Hughes, the Federal Trade Commission's "biggest mistake" was letting Facebook acquire Instagram and WhatsApp. As the co-founder pointed out, many people left Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but they didn't leave the Facebook ecosystem altogether because of Instagram and WhatsApp, with some people unaware that Facebook owned these social networks.
First, Facebook should be separated into multiple companies. The F.T.C., in conjunction with the Justice Department, should enforce antitrust laws by undoing the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions and banning future acquisitions for several years.

How would a breakup work? Facebook would have a brief period to spin off the Instagram and WhatsApp businesses, and the three would become distinct companies, most likely publicly traded. Facebook shareholders would initially hold stock in the new companies, although Mark and other executives would probably be required to divest their management shares.
In the years since its acqusitions, the founders of both Instagram and WhatsApp have left each company, reportedly due to clashing with Mark Zuckerberg and his management of their apps. Hughes described an informal slogan that became well-known in the Facebook offices in the wake of its launch of the "Stories" format on Instagram and Facebook: "Don't be too proud to copy."
The vibrant marketplace that once drove Facebook and other social media companies to compete to come up with better products has virtually disappeared. This means there’s less chance of start-ups developing healthier, less exploitative social media platforms. It also means less accountability on issues like privacy.

Mark may never have a boss, but he needs to have some check on his power. The American government needs to do two things: break up Facebook’s monopoly and regulate the company to make it more accountable to the American people.
Although the Cambridge Analytica scandal has passed, in 2019 Facebook continued to appear in headlines regarding data breaches and user privacy issues. In April alone, it was reported that Facebook's executive team used the data of its users as leverage over partner companies; two days later it emerged that Facebook harvested the email contacts of 1.5 million users without their knowledge or consent and used the data to build a web of their social connections.

That same day, Facebook confirmed that millions of Instagram passwords were stored on its servers in plain text with no encryption. Similar stories have been shared frequently since news broke about about the Cambridge Analytica scandal just over one year ago.

Amid all of the news, Facebook today announced the launch of a new feature for Stories called "Birthday Stories." Using this ability, friends and family members can add digital birthday cards, photos, or video messages to your Birthday Story, which will be visible at the top of the Facebook iOS app like other Stories.


The feature will be available in the birthday notification that pops up when a friend is celebrating their big day. From there, you'll be able to take a photo or video, share a music sticker on the Story, and more. Once multiple people have added to the Birthday Story, the person in question will be able to browse it like any traditional Facebook or Instagram Story.

The company said that its goal with the new update was expanding on existing birthday features on Facebook, while also continuing to push interaction with Stories. It's been over two years since Facebook Stories began rolling out to users, and nearly three years since Instagram first copied the Stories format from Snapchat.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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WhatsApp Business App Expands to iPhone

Facebook-owned WhatsApp today expanded its popular WhatsApp Business app to the iPhone, giving business owners a better way to interface with their customers using the chat app.

With WhatsApp Business, businesses are able to create profiles with contact details, website information, and options for automated greetings, replies, and away messages.

Whether it's an online sweet shop in Ribeirão Preto, Brazil that closes 60 percent of its sales via WhatsApp Business or a cinnamon roll company in Tijuana, Mexico that credits WhatsApp Business for allowing it to open a second location, small business owners all over the world are using the app to grow. We're excited to bring the WhatsApp Business app to even more small businesses and hear new stories about how it's helping them succeed.
WhatsApp Business also includes a desktop website component, so businesses can use a smartphone, tablet, or desktop machine to contact customers. Prior to now, the WhatsApp Business app has been limited to Android devices.

WhatsApp Business will be available in the App Store for free, but it looks like it's still rolling out at the current time. It will be available in Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, India, Mexico, the UK and the United States, with WhatsApp planning to bring it to additional countries in the near future. [Direct Link]


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WhatsApp for iPhone Now Lets You Lock App With Face ID or Touch ID

WhatsApp has enabled a new Face ID authentication option for iPhones that support the feature, in the latest update to the messenger app (via WABetaInfo).

The Facebook-owned platform has been testing the feature for iPhone X and newer devices in its TestFlight beta releases for some weeks now, but version 2.19.20 of WhatsApp, now on the App Store, makes Face ID available for all users with supporting iPhones.

When enabled, users need to use Face ID to unlock the WhatsApp app, but they can still reply to messages from notifications and answer calls when the app is locked.

To require Face ID to unlock WhatsApp, tap Settings -> Account -> Privacy -> Screen Lock and toggle on the Require Face ID switch. Users with a fingerprint sensing Home button on their iPhones will see an option to Require Touch ID instead.


With the Face ID/Touch ID toggle enabled, users will see some additional options appear below that allow them to activate the authentication requirement immediately, after one minute, after 15 minutes, or after one hour.

When the app is locked, if the iPhone fails to recognize a face or fingerprint, users can alternatively choose to enter their iPhone Passcode to open WhatsApp.

Elsewhere in this update, a smaller change means users can now download individual stickers in a sticker pack from the in-app sticker store, rather than having to download the whole pack. Just select a stickers pack, tap and hold the desired sticker, then tap Add to Favorites in the pop-up pane.

WhatsApp is a free download for iPhone available on the iOS App Store. [Direct Link]


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Mark Zuckerberg Plans to Make Facebook Messenger, Instagram Messaging, and WhatsApp Interoperable

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is planning to integrate three disparate messaging services -- Facebook Messenger, Instagram messaging, and WhatsApp -- into one "underlying messaging infrastructure" (via The New York Times).

Facebook Messenger

These services will continue to operate as their own standalone apps, but the company's work will make them interoperable with one another. This means that a Facebook user could send an encrypted message to someone who only has a WhatsApp account, and vice versa. The company is still in the early stages of the unification, with plans to be finished by the end of 2019 or early 2020.

According to sources familiar with the plans, Zuckerberg's idea is the newest effort to keep people within the Facebook ecosystem, and off of rival texting apps like iMessage.
Mr. Zuckerberg has also ordered all of the apps to incorporate end-to-end encryption, the people said, a significant step that protects messages from being viewed by anyone except the participants in the conversation.

By stitching the apps’ infrastructure together, Mr. Zuckerberg wants to increase the utility of the social network, keeping its billions of users highly engaged inside its ecosystem. If people turn more regularly to Facebook-owned properties for texting, they may forgo rival messaging services, such as those from Apple and Google, said the people, who declined to be identified because the moves are confidential.
In an official statement, Facebook said it's "working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks," alluding to the upcoming change. As of now, WhatsApp is the only one of the three main Facebook messaging apps to support secure end-to-end encrypted text messages, which ensures that texts are only read by you and the person you send them to.

This also raises privacy concerns for Zuckerberg's plans, since it's unclear how an end-to-end encrypted app would integrate with apps like Facebook Messenger. To sign up for WhatsApp, only a phone number is needed, but in contrast personal identities are the central part of apps like Facebook and Instagram, including their messaging services.
Today, WhatsApp requires people to register only a phone number to sign up for the service. By contrast, Facebook and Facebook Messenger ask users to provide their real identities. Matching Facebook and Instagram users to their WhatsApp handles could give pause to those who prefer keeping their use of each app compartmentalized.
In the wake of last year's Cambridge Analytica scandal, internal sources state that Zuckerberg has renewed his focus on WhatsApp and Instagram as the main Facebook brand was hit hard with negativity. In September, Bloomberg reported that Instagram was expected to soon become "more tightly integrated" with Facebook, in the wake of Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger leaving Facebook.

WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton have also left Facebook for similar reasons. According to today's reports, employees are still clashing with Zuckerberg over the new shift in focus to WhatsApp and Instagram, with dozens of WhatsApp employees arguing with Zuckerberg over the upcoming messaging integration plan on internal message boards, as well as during a "contentious" staff meeting last month.

During this meeting, WhatsApp employees reportedly asked Zuckerberg why he was so focused on making the messaging services integration a priority for 2019. According to sources, his responses were "vague" and "meandering," and as a result several WhatsApp employees have left and more are planning to leave because of the plan.


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WhatsApp Announces Support for Sticker Packs

WhatsApp is about to introduce support for stickers in the massively popular chat app, an official blog post revealed today.

Stickers have been available on rival messaging platforms including Apple's iMessages and Telegram for some time, so today's announcement isn't a surprise as WhatsApp tries to cement its position as the most popular messenger app globally.


To begin with, WhatsApp is launching sticker packs created by its own in-house designers, along with a selection of stickers from other artists.

However, users can also expect third-party sticker packs further down the line, as WhatsApp is also releasing a set of APIs and interfaces that will allow anyone "minimal development or coding experience" to build their own sticker packs and publish them on the App Store.

WhatsApp users can post stickers in chat threads via a new sticker button, and add new sticker packs by tapping the plus icon, once they become available on iOS and Android over the coming weeks.


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Latest WhatsApp Update Adds iPhone XS Max Support, Hints at Future Dark Mode

WhatsApp received an update this morning that adds official support for the larger display on Apple's iPhone XS Max, as well as some other improvements and new clues on what's next for the messaging platform.

Prior to today's update, the WhatsApp interface didn't scale properly on the 2,688 x 1,242 resolution screen exclusive to Apple's new 6.5-inch device, but happily the issue has been fixed in this update and the UI now takes full advantage of the larger OLED display.

Elsewhere in this version (2.18.100), WhatsApp has introduced a redesigned contextual action menu for message bubbles in chat threads. Previously, a long press on a message would bring up a horizontal popup menu similar to the one found elsewhere in iOS.

Old message action menu (left) versus redesigned menu

In contrast, the new vertical menu masks the background to highlight the selected message and allows more options to be shown in the first popup, with an ellipsis replacing the arrow button to reveal additional actions.

Elsewhere, consecutive voice messages now play in sequence, so users no longer have to tap play on each message. The latest update also adds new reply options to user status messages, with documents, voice messages, locations and vCards being added to the existing text, images, GIFs and videos.

In addition to these changes, WABetaInfo has uncovered alpha code in the latest version suggesting future features for the app will include an optional Dark Mode and the ability to preview videos in WhatsApp notifications.

Image via WABetaInfo

In the hidden Dark Mode, incoming messages currently have a dark gray color and outgoing messages are dark green, but it's worth noting that the theme is still in early testing and may look very different when the Dark Mode officially goes live.

WhatsApp is a free download for iPhone available from the App Store. [Direct Link]


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WhatsApp Begins Rolling Out Support for Media Previews in Message Notifications

WhatsApp now supports media previews in new message notifications, according to the latest update for iPhone users running iOS 10 or later.

For as long as WhatsApp has been on iPhone, any images included in messages have been replaced by a camera emoji in notifications, so you had to open the app to see the attached media.

Similarly, GIF messages sent over the chat platform are traditionally represented in notifications by the space invader emoji, requiring users to open WhatsApp to view the content.

That behavior is set to change in version 2.18.90, released today, with support included for full media previews. On devices with 3D Touch, a hard press on notifications should reveal the media without having to open the app. Alternatively, users can swipe left on the notifications and tap View in the revealed menu.

It's also worth noting that the media preview feature allows users to download images and GIFs directly from the notification if they have disabled WhatsApp's media auto-download option.

According to WABetaInfo, the media preview feature isn't working for everyone who has updated just yet, but WhatsApp is apparently aware of the issue and is aiming to fix it server-side within the next few days.

Also in version 2.18.90, WhatsApp is introducing a feature that flags suspicious links sent over the chat platform. When a message is received that contains a link, WhatsApp analyzes the URL characters locally in order to detect if the link is suspicious and alerts the user in the chat thread.

WhatsApp is a free download for iPhone available from the App Store. [Direct Link]


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WhatsApp for iOS Gains Group Calling for Voice and Video

Popular Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp this afternoon announced that the WhatsApp apps for iOS and Android devices now support group calling for voice and video.

WhatsApp users can make group calls with up to four people total by starting a one-on-one voice or video call and then tapping the "add participant" button in the top right corner of the app to add another contact to the call.


WhatsApp says that its group calls are end-to-end encrypted and designed to work reliably around the world in a variety of different network conditions.

The feature, which was first announced by Facebook in May at its F8 developer event, is rolling out to iPhone and Android users and should be available to all users soon.

WhatsApp can be downloaded from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]


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