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Business News/ Technology / WhatsApp brings major changes to ‘forwarding’ and more. Details here

WhatsApp brings major changes to ‘forwarding’ and more. Details here

Admin to decide who can send messages within groups
  • Users can now report accounts to WhatsApp by flagging a specific message
  • WhatsApp logo and keyboard buttons (REUTERS)Premium
    WhatsApp logo and keyboard buttons (REUTERS)

    WhatsApp has introduced several new features to curb the spread of fake news and unwarranted messages for its strong 400 million user base in India. With end-to-end encryption already in place since 2016, WhatsApp is now adding more features that will limit some of its existing features. The Meta-owned instant messaging app has been accused of spreading fake news in India and having failed to stop the menace. Now with the improved guidelines WhatsApp aim to correct itself in India.

    Although, some of the features already existed in WhatsApp while it has added some important changes in the form of ‘Forward Limits’, ‘Limits for Viral Messages’, ‘Message level Reporting’, ‘Disappearing Messages’ and ‘View Once’, etc. 

    Here are the new guidelines introduced by WhatsApp in India:

    Two-Step verification 

    We recommend users to add an extra layer of security to their WhatsApp account by enabling a Two-Step Verification feature which requires a six-digit PIN when resetting and verifying your WhatsApp account, in the event of your SIM card being stolen or your phone being compromised.

    Lock your WhatsApp with Touch ID or Face ID 

    WhatsApp offers its users the ability to add another layer of security to their accounts with Touch ID and Face ID for iPhone, and Fingerprint lock for Android.

    Forward limits 

    We have set a limit on forwarding messages to just five chats at once, making WhatsApp one of the few messaging services to intentionally constrain sharing. This has reduced the number of forwarded messages on WhatsApp in India by over 25%. This counting of forwards occurs on users’ devices and is protected by end-to-end encryption which means only the sender’s device and the recipient's device have access to it.

    Additional limits for viral messages 

    We have set additional limits for forwards that have been forwarded many times. These messages are marked with double arrows and labeled as “Forwarded many times" to indicate they did not originate from a close contact and can only be forwarded to one other chat at a time. This change reduced these kinds of messages by over 70%.

    Block and report 

    Unlike traditional SMS, WhatsApp provides a simple way for users to block accounts and make reports to WhatsApp if they encounter problematic messages. We encourage users to report problematic contacts to us. In addition, we now provide the option for people to keep reported messages on their phone if they want to share them with fact checkers or law enforcement officials.

    Message level reporting 

    Users can now report accounts to WhatsApp by flagging a specific message. Users simply need to long press a message to either report or block a user.

    Disappearing messages 

    We have launched ‘Disappearing Messages’ to let users send messages that disappear from WhatsApp. Once enabled, new messages sent in the individual or group chat will disappear twenty-four hours, seven days or ninety days after the time they are sent, depending on the duration users select.

    View once 

    We launched the feature ‘View Once’ - photos and videos that disappear from the chat after they’ve been opened, giving users even more control over their privacy.

    Group privacy settings 

    WhatsApp’s privacy settings and group invite system allow users to decide who can add them to groups. This significant change increases user privacy and helps prevent people from being added to unwanted groups.

    Admin controls: We have made a number of changes to WhatsApp groups that empower users with additional controls. We launched a setting that enables administrators to decide who can send messages within groups.

    Flash calls: New Android users opting for WhatsApp and users re-installing WhatsApp on an Android phone (such as one who is changing phone handsets), now have the option to verify their phone number through an automated call, as opposed to an SMS message, if they’d like. This allows WhatsApp to call their device and verify automatically, eliminating the need for any other SMS verification action.

    End-to-end encrypted backup: Users can now add the same layer of end-to-end encryption to protect their chat backups on iCloud or Google Drive. With end-to-end encrypted backup, messages and media are stored in the cloud and secured by a password or a 64-digit encryption key.

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    Published: 23 Feb 2022, 10:49 AM IST
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