Monday March 25, 2019
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Survey Reveals That 50% of Americans Do Not Know Who Owns WhatsApp

A previous survey by DuckDuckGo found that 56.9 per cent of American adults were unaware that Facebook owns Instagram and 44.6 per cent did not even know that Google owns YouTube

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WhatsApp working on fingerprint authentication for chats: Report. Pixabay

It may sound bizarre but nearly 50 per cent of Americans who have used WhatsApp in the last six months have no idea who owns the popular mobile messaging platform.

According to a survey by DuckDuckGo, the US-based privacy-protecting search engine, just over half of US citizens (50.42 per cent) do not know WhatsApp is owned by Facebook.

“We randomly selected 1,297 US adults (not just DuckDuckGo users) who are collectively demographically similar to the general population of US adults and surveyed them on August 16, 2018.

“Half of those who used WhatsApp in the past six months weren’t aware that Facebook owns WhatsApp,” said the survey.

The findings also showed that nearly 60 per cent of those who used Waze in the past six months didn’t know that Google owns Waze.

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WhatsApp on a smartphone device.

Waze is a popular GPS navigation software. It works on smartphones and tablet computers that have GPS support.

“This means that a majority of Americans who are using WhatsApp and/or Waze are doing so without realising that all of their information, whether it be routes, travel time, messages, photos, or location data, is privy to Facebook (for WhatsApp) and Google (for Waze),” said the survey.

According to the survey, the lack of awareness over Facebook and Google’s reach is even more alarming as more and more Americans are looking to take control of their privacy online.

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A previous survey by DuckDuckGo found that 56.9 per cent of American adults were unaware that Facebook owns Instagram and 44.6 per cent did not even know that Google owns YouTube.

Facebook in 2014 acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion. Both WhatsApp co-founders – Brian Acton and Jan Koum – have quit Facebook over data privacy and Facebook’s plans to monetise WhatsApp. (IANS)

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More Than 87,000 Groups on WhatsApp Targeting Voters: Report

The task is enormous and the stakes are high

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WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

The first phase of voting begins from April 11 and WhatsApp – and not its parent company Facebook – has turned out to be the biggest social media platform for more than 87,000 groups to target millions with political messaging.

According to WhatsApp, over 20 crore Monthly Active Users (MAUs) are using its platform in India, but the fact is that these numbers are dated back to February 2017 and the company has not shared latest India numbers for over two years now.

India today has nearly 43 crore smartphone users, according to Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research.

If we go by these numbers, 20 crore can’t be a right figure as almost every smartphone owner – from your grandpa to the maid at home — uses WhatsApp and is a potential target for the groups working round-the-clock to reach them.

“By the end of 2016, India had nearly 28-30 crore smartphone users. Today, it has crossed 40 crore.

“People across age-groups are using WhatsApp so it is safe to say that the Facebook-owned platform reaches over 30 crore Indians, almost to the size of Facebook users in the country or even bigger,” Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research, told IANS.

With Reliance Jio, data has gone ultra-cheap and political parties are now seen to livestream rallies, press meets and TV debates on Facebook and YouTube to reach their target audiences in the hinterlands.

“Over 87,000 groups aiming to influence the voters are currently active on WhatsApp. From fake statistics related to various government policies to news promoting regional violence, manipulated political news, government scams, historical myths, propaganda to patriotism and Hindu nationalism — WhatsApp has it all in the election season,” informed social media expert Anoop Mishra.

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FILE – The WhatsApp icon is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. VOA

One WhatsApp Group can have a maximum of 256 users so these 87,000 groups can reach over 2.2 crore people directly.

Now imagine one user from these groups forwarding one message to five (maximum forward limit on WhatsApp) and these groups can actually engage a much bigger audience in their mission to influence voters.

Realising the importance of curbing fake news, WhatsApp has launched several initiatives, from awareness programmes on dangers of fake news on TV, radio and digital platforms to limiting the number of forwards to five.

It has also tied up with the Nasscom Foundation to train nearly 1,00,000 Indians to spot false information and provide tips and tricks to stay safe on WhatsApp.

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“We’re pleased that the recent changes we’ve made to limit viral content and educate users is having an impact. This work is never done — there is more that we can and will do,” WhatsApp India head Abhijit Bose said in a statement recently.

WhatsApp, including other social media firms, will now have to process any request from the Election Commission to take down content within three hours during the 48-hour period before voting days.

The task is enormous and the stakes are high.

“WhatsApp has been trying to curb the spread of fake news but has got a little success in doing so. Let us see how the things unfold as we enter the crucial election time,” added Mishra. (IANS)