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One out of Every Two Indians Receive Fake News Via Facebook, WhatsApp

Facebook last week removed nearly 700 Pages, Groups and accounts in India for violating its policies on what it calls "coordinated inauthentic behaviour" and spam

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whatsapp, paytm, UPI-based Pay service
FILE - The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration. VOA

Despite tall claims made by Facebook that it is removing 10 lakh fake accounts a day in India, a survey revealed on Tuesday that one in two Indians has received fake news in the last 30 days and Facebook and WhatsApp are the platforms which are being used excessively to misinform the users.

The survey by online startup Social Media Matters and New Delhi-based Institute for Governance, Policies and Politics found that over 53 per cent of Indians received fake news related to the upcoming elections over various social media platforms.

“Nearly 62 per cent of the population believes that the upcoming elections will be influenced by the misinformation that the users are receiving,” the findings showed.

The 18-25 age group that led the conversation constituted 54 per cent of the sample population.

“Facebook and WhatsApp are the leading platforms being used to disseminate misinformation. The survey stated that 96 per cent of the sample population received fake news via WhatsApp,” the findings showed.

An estimated 900 million voters (including 9.4 per cent new voters) are battling the influence of fake news as India goes to the polls from April 11.

facebook, social media
Facebook, Messenger and Instagram apps are displayed on an iPhone, March 13, 2019, in New York. VOA

“Since half-a-billion voters have access to Internet, fake news can have a massive impact on the elections,” said the survey.

Nearly 41 per cent stated they made efforts to authenticate a news by searching it on Google, Facebook and Twitter.

About 54 per cent suggested that they have never been affected by fake news but 43 per cent of them have known people who have been misled by the same.

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The survey titled ‘#DontBeAFool’ covered nearly 700 users including 56 per cent men, 43 per cent women and 1 per cent transgenders.

Facebook on Monday said it was working for more than 18 months now to make sure that the Indian elections were fair and free from interference, both foreign and domestic.

Facebook last week removed nearly 700 Pages, Groups and accounts in India for violating its policies on what it calls “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” and spam. (IANS)

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Social Networking Giant Facebook Blames Apple iOS for Bezos’ Phone Hacking

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Facebook has blamed Apple’s operating system for the hacking of Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone, saying WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is unhackable.

Investigators believe that Bezos’s iPhone was compromised after he received a 4.4MB video file containing malware via WhatsApp – in the same way when phones of 1,400 select journalists and human rights activists were broken into by Pegasus software from Israel-based NSO Group last year.

In an interview to the BBC last week, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications, Nick Clegg, said it wasn’t WhatsApp’s fault because end-to-end encryption is unhackable and blamed Apple’s operating system for Bezos’ episode.

“It sounds like something on the, you know, what they call the operate, operated on the phone itself. It can’t have been anything on the, when the message was sent, in transit, because that’s end-to-end encrypted on WhatsApp,” Clegg told the show host.

Clegg compared the hack to opening a malicious email, saying that “it only comes to life when you open it”.

According to a report from FTI Consulting, a firm that has investigated Bezos’ phone, after that the video file was received, Bezos’ phone started sending unusually large amounts of outbound data, including his intimate messages with his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

According to Clegg, “something” must have affected the phone’s operating system.

“As sure as you can be that the technology of end-to-end encryption cannot, other than unless you have handset, or you have the message at either end, cannot be hacked into,” he was quoted as saying.

Apple was yet to comment on Facebook’s statement.

The NSO Group has denied it was part of Bezos’ hacking.

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WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages. But the piece of NSO Group software exploited WhatsApp’s video calling system by installing the spyware via missed calls to snoop on the selected users.

According to leading tech policy and media consultant Prasanto K. Roy, end-to-end encrypted apps (E2EE) do provide security, and messages or calls cannot be intercepted and decrypted en route without enormous computing resources.

“But once anyone can get to your handset, whether a human or a piece of software, the encryption doesn’t matter anymore. Because on your handset, it’s all decrypted,” Roy told IANS recently. (IANS)