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Signal Supports 40 Person Group Calls

Signal App

Signal, an encrypted messaging service, has announced that group calls may now accommodate up to 40 people. The company said it first introduced end-to-end encrypted group calls a year ago and has since expanded its support from five to 40 members.

“We designed our own open-source Signal Calling Service to accomplish the job because there is no off-the-shelf software that would allow us to support calls of that scale while ensuring that all communication is end-to-end encrypted,” the business claimed in a weblog.

When Signal was developing support for group calls, it tested a number of open sources selective Forwarding Units (SFUs), but only two of them provided appropriate congestion control.

“We launched group calls using a modified version of one of them,” the company noted, “but we quickly discovered that even with extensive modifications, we couldn’t safely grow beyond eight participants due to high server CPU utilization.”

To accommodate additional users, the business created a new SFU in Rust from the ground up. It has been supporting all Signal group calls for nine months, can easily scale to 40 people, and is readable enough to serve as a reference implementation for an SFU built on WebRTC protocols, according to the business.

WhatsApp to Allow You to Hide Your Profile Photo, Status

Whatsapp Update

WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging and communication platforms, has launched a new update for its desktop client through the official beta channel. The update pushes the version number up to 2.2149.1, according to the release notes. WhatsApp will offer the option to choose “My Contacts Except…” for privacy settings in a future release. WABetaInfo commented on the situation on Twitter, writing, “What’s new in version 2.2149.1 of WhatsApp Desktop? WhatsApp will offer the ability to choose “My Contacts Except…” for your privacy settings in a future release. At a later date, further iOS and Android activations are expected.”

“Wassup is now working on the option to define “My Contact Except…” for your privacy settings right within WhatsApp Web/Desktop!” after integrating some new approaches to secure user privacy. WABetaInfo claims this. According to the source, the option “My Contact Except…” will be available for Last Seen, About, and Profile Photo. When you pick “My Contact Except…” on WhatsApp, you can decide who can’t see your information.

According to WABetaInfo, after WhatsApp has fully pushed out the same feature on Android beta and iOS beta, this feature will most likely be deployed on WhatsApp Web/Desktop. Beta testers also cannot see or choose “My Contacts Except…” on WhatsApp Web/Desktop, even if the feature “My Contacts Except…” is already enabled for their WhatsApp account.

However, no timeframe for when the feature will be offered to more iOS and Android users has been provided.

Apart from that, WhatsApp is developing Communities in preparation for a future release. The Google Play Beta Program will deliver the latest update, which takes the version to 2.22.1.4.

The incident was announced to WABetaInfo’s Twitter followers. “What’s new in WhatsApp beta 2.22.1.4 for Android? WhatsApp is working on creating Communities for a future upgrade! “It sent a tweet out.

According to the information, it is required to give groups a name and an optional description before attaching them to the Community. Also, no date has been given for when beta testers will be able to use the feature.

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YouTube TV Loses ESPN, Other Disney Networks

Youtube

More than a dozen Disney-owned channels are no longer available on YouTube TV, despite a last-minute settlement with the company. Popular networks such as ESPN and ABC have been deleted from the service as of December 18th. As promised, YouTube TV’s membership has been reduced to $50 per month as a result of the loss of programs.

“They have declined to reach a fair contract with us based on market terms and conditions,” Youtusaid late Friday in a statement after ongoing negotiations with YouTube TV.

“As a result, their subscribers no longer have access to our unrivaled portfolio of networks, which includes live sports and news, as well as kids, family, and general entertainment programming from ABC, the ESPN networks, Disney channels, Freeform, FX Networks, and National Geographic channels,” the company explained. “We are prepared to strike an equitable deal with Google as soon as possible in order to restore our networks and minimize the disruption to YouTube TV users.” We’re hoping that Google will join us in this endeavor.”

YouTube TV announced in a blog post that it will “continue discussions with Disney to advocate on your behalf with the aim of restoring their programming on YouTube TV.”

YouTube TV stated, “We’ve been in good-faith conversations with Disney for several months.” “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we were unable to strike an equitable arrangement before our current one expired, and their channels are no longer available on YouTube TV,” says the statement.

The statement comes after a notice to subscribers earlier this week that the channels might be removed from YouTube TV on Friday, December 17th if a settlement between the two businesses could not be struck. In the event that discussions fail, YouTube TV has stated that it will reduce its monthly fee from $65 to $15 to compensate for the shift.

Earlier this week, it appeared that a favorable resolution to the service loss was in the works. For one thing, the service reminded users in an email on Monday that Disney “is an essential partner for us,” and that it intended to achieve an agreement with the Mouse House “if we can establish reasonable terms.” However, the companies were unable to strike an agreement before their present arrangement expired on December 17th.

The loss of nearly a dozen channels hurts YouTube TV’s ability to compete with rival online cable alternatives like Hulu with Live TV or Fubo TV. Not only will a dozen or more channels be removed from the airwaves, but so will a long list of Disney-owned properties, including not only Disney channels but also FX, ESPN, and National Geographic channels.

The following are all of the channels that have left because an agreement has not been reached:

  • Your local ABC channel
  • ABC News Live
  • Disney Channel
  • Disney Junior
  • Disney XD
  • Freeform
  • FX
  • FXX
  • FXM
  • National Geographic
  • National Geographic Wild
  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN3 (by authentication to the ESPN app)
  • ESPNU
  • ESPNEWS
  • SEC Network
  • ACC Network

Carriage disputes are frustratingly common in our new streaming landscape, and they frequently play out publicly before being resolved, as was the case recently with YouTube TV and NBCUniversal-owned channels. Less frequently, two parties fail to make a contract, and it’s the user who winds up paying the price by having to shop around for a new provider if they want support for their preferred programming.

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Meta Targets ‘Cyber Mercenaries’ Using Facebook to Spy

Meta

On Thursday, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, blacklisted a number of “cyber mercenary” organisations and began notifying 50,000 people who were presumably targeted by the companies suspected of spying on activists, dissidents, and journalists throughout the world.

Meta took down 1,500 Facebook and Instagram accounts tied to groups that allegedly offered services ranging from gathering public information online to building trust with targets via phoney identities or digital eavesdropping via cyber attempts.

In addition, the social media giant has begun informing approximately 50,000 people it believes may have been targeted in more than 100 countries by companies including several from Israel, which is a major participant in the cyber-surveillance industry.

“The surveillance-for-hire market… appears to be indiscriminate targeting on behalf of the highest bidder,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Meta’s head of security policy.

Facebook‘s parent company says it removed accounts linked to Israeli companies Cobwebs Technologies, Cognyte, Black Cube, and Bluehawk CI.

Bellatrix, a company based in India, Cytrox, a company based in North Macedonia, and an undisclosed Chinese business all had accounts tied to them banned from Meta platforms.

Researchers from Citizen Lab, a Canadian cybersecurity company, accused Cytrox of producing and distributing malware that was used to hack Egyptian opposition activist Ayman Nour’s phone on Thursday.

China’s unnamed operation

“These cyber mercenaries frequently claim that they only work with criminals and terrorists,” according to a Meta statement.

“Targeting is indiscriminate,” it continued, “and includes journalists, dissidents, opponents of authoritarian regimes, families of opposition members, and human rights campaigners.” “They are no longer allowed to use our services.”

Black Cube denied wrongdoing and even operating in the “virtual realm” in a statement to AFP.

“Black Cube works with the world’s finest legal firms to prove bribes, uncover corruption, and recover hundreds of millions of dollars in stolen assets,” the company said, adding that it follows all local regulations.

Companies that sell “web intelligence services” begin the surveillance process by gathering data from publicly available online sources like news headlines and Wikipedia.

According to Meta investigators, cyber mercenaries then create phoney accounts on social media sites to gather information from people’s profiles and even join groups or conversations to learn more.

Another strategy is to gain a target’s trust on social media and then deceive them into clicking on a booby-trapped link or file that instals malware that can collect information from whatever device they use to access the internet.

According to the Meta team, a mercenary with that level of access can steal data from a target’s phone or computer, as well as secretly activate microphones, cameras, and tracking.

According to the Meta report, one of the targeted companies, Bluehawk, sells a variety of monitoring services, including managing phoney accounts to install harmful code.

According to Meta, several bogus accounts linked to Bluehawk impersonated journalists from publications such as Fox News in the United States and La Stampa in Italy.

While Meta was unable to determine who was behind the undisclosed Chinese operation, it was able to link the surveillance tool’s “command and control” to servers that appeared to be used by Chinese law enforcement officers.

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Facebook Rolls Out ‘Year Together’ Card

Facebook ‘Year Together’ Card

Facebook’s Android and iOS apps now have a ‘Year Together’ card feature that allows users to share the highlights and top moments from the previous year. The startup, which was recently renamed Meta, has also launched an Instagram feature that allows users to share their top ten tales of the year. As part of the Year Together card, users will be able to see friends, images, locations, and other experiences they shared on the network. The feature has begun to roll out, and it will be available through the end of the year.

According to Tech News Media, the Year Together tool will propose posts and content provided by a user, which will be collated and presented as a post. Users, on the other hand, are not confined to Facebook’s suggested postings; they can remove them and replace them with other photos or information. This is useful if users don’t want to revisit specific memories from the previous year. If a user has set up unique privacy settings for posts, the post (or card) will be available to their friend list or to selected users once it has been posted.

However, Meta‘s effort to encourage users to reflect on and relive the best experiences of their year isn’t restricted to the Facebook app. Instagram users can now access a similar tool called 2021 Playback, which displays a list of their top stories from the previous year. On the image and video sharing service, these can be assembled and shared with their followers. This tool, like Facebook’s Year Together card, allows users to mix and blend older memories from 2021 in their personal Story library.

In 2021, Facebook and Instagram will not be the only applications to introduce year-in-review features. This feature is ubiquitous in social engagement apps, and Spotify, the prominent streaming service, offers a similar feature called Spotify Wrapped every year. Spotify Wrapped 2021 was released on December 1 and allows users to see statistics such as the artists they listen to the most, the top songs they play, and the amount of time they spend listening to music.

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Facebook Messenger Kids Brings Dark Mode

Facebook Messenger Kids

Facebook Messenger Kids now includes a Dark Mode, new voice message audio effects, and games directly in your chat thread. Messenger Kids will get Dark Mode first on iOS devices, then Android devices. Dark mode can be enabled by going to Messenger Kids’ settings and selecting “Dark mode.”

They may switch the feature on or off, or use phone settings to have their app automatically modify its appearance dependent on their phone settings, according to the business. Kids using Messenger Kids on iOS mobile devices will be able to add voice effects to their voice messages before sending them in the coming weeks.

Messenger Kids will now have two-player games like chess, tic-tac-toe, and “Daily Doodle” within chat threads on mobile iOS devices, in addition to its video, audio, and text-based chat features. By entering a discussion thread and touching on the orange controller’s “Play” option in the bottom right corner, kids can choose a game to play.

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Instagram to Introduce Parental Control Features

Instagram Parental Feature

Instagram’s head of service Adam Mosseri said in a blog post that new parental control capabilities will be available in March. Parents and guardians will be able to check how much time their children spend on Instagram, establish time limits, and be notified if their children report someone. The controls were unveiled as part of a package of new measures aimed at making the platform safer for its users, particularly teenagers.

Although Mosseri’s post claims that these security enhancements have been in the works for “a long time,” their introduction comes in the wake of a slew of negative news about the Meta-owned social network. Internal documents provided by whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed that Instagram was aware that its service could exacerbate body image concerns among female adolescent users. Mosseri is scheduled to testify before a Senate committee this week when he will most certainly be probed about Instagram’s influence on its teenage users.

In addition to the new parental restrictions, Instagram claims it is working on an educational portal for parents and guardians that will provide them with tips and tutorials on their children’s use of social media.

In the near term, Instagram says it will begin rolling out the “Take a Break” feature that it began testing last month. This opt-in function tells users when they’ve been scrolling for a specified period of time, such as 10, 20, or 30 minutes, to exit the app. Users will be prompted to turn on the feature via notifications, and Instagram claims that 90% of users in tests have left the reminders on once they’ve been set. The function is currently available in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, and will be available globally early next year.

Changes to how Instagram handles tagging permissions for adolescent users are among the new safety improvements, which will be rolled out to everyone early next year. According to Mosseri, users will no longer be able to tag or reference teenage users by default. In January, a new bulk delete feature will be available, allowing users to delete all of their posts, likes, and comments at once. This, according to Mosseri, is intended to assist consumers in “controlling their digital presence.”

Mosseri’s article also goes into depth about safety elements that are still in the early phases of development. It confirms that the service is still looking for ways to “nudge” users away from issues they’ve been thinking about for too long. When Meta’s vice president of worldwide affairs Nick Clegg unveiled this feature alongside Take a Break in October, he stated it would kick in for “material that may not be beneficial to [a user’s] well-being.” Instagram hasn’t given any indication of when the functionality will be available. In addition, the site is considering adopting a stricter setting to govern what content users in Explore are offered, with the goal of reducing their exposure to “potentially hazardous or sensitive content or accounts.”

Despite the fact that Instagram’s post includes a number of quotes from experts and research partners who support the new features, Mosseri will have his job cut out for him if he wants to win over increasingly skeptical US lawmakers. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) told News Media that “Meta is seeking to deflect focus away from its blunders by bringing out parental advisories, use timers, and content restriction measures that consumers should have had all along.” “However, my coworkers and I see right through what they’re up to.”

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Twitter Users Suddenly Losing Followers

Twitter Permissions

Indian Twitter users are voicing their displeasure over a sudden drop in their follower count. Some users claimed to have lost hundreds of followers in minutes, while others claimed to have lost thousands of followers all at once, significantly lowering their following.

Although the network has conducted a clean-up operation to remove bots and defunct accounts, Twitter has begun reinstating its followers.

Twitter is known for cleaning up accounts to ensure that they are secure and free of spam and bots. Twitter made a similar effort to clean up the platform earlier this year, stating, “The number of followers on your account may fluctuate from time to time. Accounts that have been asked to authenticate their password or phone number are not included in follower numbers until they have done so. This is something we do on a regular basis to help keep all accounts safe and prevent spam.”

In a related incident, Twitter announced the deletion of over 3,000 accounts used for “foreign state-linked information operations.” According to Reuters, the banned Twitter accounts were related to operations attributed to six different countries, including Mexico, China, and Russia.

In the meanwhile, Twitter has announced that users would not be able to share private individuals’ media files, such as images or videos, without their permission.

The firm had previously prohibited media files that revealed sensitive information such as a person’s home address, identity documents, or contact information. The new criteria, on the other hand, aim to penalize posts that may harass people or infringe on their privacy.

The new regulations were published barely one day after Twitter introduced Parag Agrawal as the company’s new chief executive officer (CEO), following the departure of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

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Twitter Prohibits Sharing of Personal Photos, Videos without Consent

Twitter Permissions

On Tuesday, Twitter Inc stated that users will no longer be able to share personal data such as photographs and videos without their permission on the network.

The social media company’s privacy policy already prohibits the sharing of other people’s personal information such as phone numbers, addresses, and identification numbers.

“We will remove it when we are told by those depicted, or by an authorized representative, that they did not consent to have their private image or video uploaded,” Twitter wrote in a blog post.

On Monday, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey stepped down as CEO, handing over the reins to Parag Agrawal, the company’s technology head.

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