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Facebook & WhatsApp damage control after privacy backlash

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Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp is delaying an update aimed at increasing business transactions on the platform after a storm of concern from users who feared that the messaging platform was watering down its privacy policy in the process.

WhatsApp users received notification this month that it was preparing a new privacy policy and terms, and it reserved the right to share some user data with the Facebook app.

That sparked global outcries and a rush of new users to competitor private messaging apps including Telegram and Signal.

WhatsApp on Friday said it would delay the new policy launch to May from February, that the update was focused on allowing users to message with businesses, and that the update does not affect personal conversations, which will continue to have end-to-end encryption.

“This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook,” it said in a statement.

“While not everyone shops with a business on WhatsApp today, we think that more people will choose to do so in the future and it’s important people are aware of these services,” it said.

Facebook has been rolling out business tools on WhatsApp over the past year as it moves to boost revenue from higher-growth units like WhatsApp and Instagram while knitting together e-commerce infrastructure across the company.

WhatsApp said in October that it would start to offer in-app purchases via Facebook Shops and would offer firms who use its customer service messaging tools the ability to store those messages on Facebook servers.

WhatsApp said at the time that chats with a business using the new hosting service would not be protected by the app’s end-to-end encryption.

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Signal is back after an 24 hours service outage

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After experiencing technical difficulties Friday, the Signal messaging app appears to be back up and running. The company tweeted Saturday night that it was “back,” although added that some users may still see error messages in their chats. The company didn’t explain what caused the outage.

During the outage, the Signal tweeted that it was “working as quickly as possible to bring additional capacity online to handle peak traffic levels.”

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Africa

Strive Masiyiwa Appointed to Netflix Board of Directors

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Netflix has announced it has appointed top Zimbabwean businessman and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa to its board.

Masiyiwa is the founder and executive chairman of Econet Global, a telco company that traverses 29 countries in Africa, Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

Econet group offers mobile payment, broadband distribution, and satellite services.

His appointment comes in hand with Netflix’s need to expand in other continents like Africa and Asia.

“Netflix is at the forefront of bringing great entertainment from anywhere in the world to everyone in the world, and I look forward to working with the board and all stakeholders to continue its traditions of innovation and growth,” said Strive Masiyiwa.

Netflix now has more than 190 million subscribers with U.S. and Europe taking the lead.

Masiyiwa is one of Africa’s richest billionaires and has been recognized for his generosity even in his home country, Zimbabwe.

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Cyber Security

Zoom End-to-End Encryption Update

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Zoom, the world’s most popular video conferencing platform announced it will roll out an end to end encryption feature (E2EE) to all users (Free/Basic). This is coming after there has been an outrage over poor security on its cloud-based video conferencing platform.

It’s not clear when the feature will launch for all users, but the beta is arriving in July and Zoom intends to have some level of permissions so account administrators can disable or enable it at the account or group level.

To make this possible, Free/Basic users seeking access to E2EE will participate in a one-time process that will prompt the user for additional pieces of information, such as verifying a phone number via a text message.

Other applications including Signal, Skype, and WhatsApp already offer E2EE in their messages and calls.

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan explains in its blog post, announcing its decision to bring E2EE to paid users only in early June. He explained that they want to be able to help law enforcement in investigations and that people who use Zoom to disrupt online meetings and to engage in criminal acts and facilitate horrible abuse generally use free (quasi-anonymous) accounts, also noting we are confident that by implementing risk-based authentication, in combination with our current mix of tools — including our Report a User function — we can continue to prevent and fight abuse.

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