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Net Neutrality: Decide if you want free Whatsapp, Hike, Hangout or not

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By Shilpika Srivastava

A lot is going on over the issue of net neutrality, and the growing resistance to it by Internet users.

But, have you ever really thought why the world, especially the Indians are raising a ruckus over it?

Maybe you simply allowed the issue to take a back seat in your mind, and started to watch that funny cat video on You Tube. But, do you know you might just not be able to freely and fully ‘enjoy’ the Internet, and watch that funny cat videos too, from the coming April 24?

So people, kindly lend me your eyes and minds just for a few moments, so that I can explain the sensitivity of the issue, how India’s telecom regulators are trying hard to hoodwink you. Yes, your world might just change, in twelve days!

What exactly is Net Neutrality?

According to Wikipedia, Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers and government should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, mobile application or mode of communication.

What’s the fight for?

Sometime back the telecom companies enjoyed a profitable position in the market, fetched huge revenues during a period when the mobile users in India touched a number of 800 million people. This was the time when they largely focused on selling voice minutes, but what they really did was that they used Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) to connect the users with other telcos. In simple terms, they just transferred the calls through Internet.  And, its no rocket science to understand the difference of the cost between VOIP and the traditional voice calls.

Recently, what scared the telecom companies to the core was the easy accessibility to message or call someone provided by the platforms, like Whatsapp, Hangout, Hike and so on, and that too at the cost of Internet prices.

How it all started?

The argument over Net Neutrality picked up the hype when the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lost its case against Comcast in the US Supreme Court in 2010. In India, a telecom giant, Airtel, planned to charge higher tariffs for phone calls (or VOIP) made through Skype or Viber on its network through Internet. This clearly breaches the principle of ‘Net Neutrality.’

No doubt, it attracted an uproar among the users that forced Airtel to withdraw the plan.

If this, happens in India, then you will have to pay for each site you visit. It will be the carrier who will have full control on your activities online. They want that ‘right’ to charge whatever they want.

For an example, Airtel may allow you to use Hike absolutely free as it is their own product, but on the other hand, they might charge you a bomb  when you share your jokes on Whatsapp.

You might not just believe that Reliance has already gone a step further with Internet.org. You can use Bing absolutely free, but have to pay when you ‘Google’ something. You have the right to share your thoughts on Facebook for fee, but not on Twitter.

Tell’em that #IndiaWantsNetNeutrality 

TRAI has framed 20 questions regarding Net Neutrality seeking answers from public and telcos based on which TRAI will take its decision. The questions can be found on pages 113 to 116 of the official consultation paper at TRAI Consultation. File your answers via an email to advqos@trai.gov.in by 24 April, 2015 (read ASAP).

If you find answering tricky, then simply sign this petition here.

This is a call to arms, a time to set your foot down and say, NO. Because, if we don’t act now, we may lose our freedom to ‘enjoy’ Internet in just 12 days.

 

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Messenger Rooms: Facebook’s Group Video Chat feature Available on Instagram

Facebook Messenger Rooms is now available in Instagram as users can invite upto 50 for a video conference

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Facebook has introduced Messenger Room feature in Instagram. Pixabay

Instagram is the latest in Facebooks family of apps to be integrated with the new group video chat feature Messenger Rooms.

With the latest update, Instagram users will be able to invite up to 50 people for a video chat session.

“Beginning in the present day, you’ll be able to create @messenger Rooms on Instagram and invite anybody to hitch,” Instagram said in a tweet on Friday.

Meanwhile, Instagram also shared a video revealing the steps to make use of the brand new characteristic.

A user first need to go to Instagram Direct messages. There, tap on the video chat icon. Then select Create a Room. One can now send invitations for the room to their Instagram friends.

WhatsApp
Messenger Rooms integration is also coming to WhatsApp. Pixabay

Instagram will then create a room and show a link to it. It will also give an option to Join Room or Send Link and if a user tap on Join Room, Instagram will ask to open the room in the Messenger app.

Messenger Rooms integration is also coming to WhatsApp and has been noticed in the beta version.

Also Read: Facebook Workplace Gathers 5 Million Paid Users

Last month, Facebook announced Messenger Rooms which allow group video calls of up to 50 people with no time limit.

People can create a room right from Messenger or Facebook, and invite anyone to join the video call, even if they don”t have a Facebook account.

In Facebook Messenger Rooms, the users can post links in their News Feed or in Groups or event pages. (IANS)

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WhatsApp Launches Campaign to Reduce Spread of Fake News Amid COVID-19

The campaign aims to curb fake news amid COVID-19

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WhatsApp launched a new education campaign to curb the spread of fake news during the ongoing pandemic. Pixabay

Instant messaging platform WhatsApp on Friday launched a new “check it before you share it” education campaign, expanding its efforts to reduce spread of misinformation on its platform amid COVID-19 pandemic.

This campaign acts as a simple reminder that it is the responsibility of everyone to double check the facts before forwarding messages to flatten the misinformation curve, WhatsApp said.

It tries to inculcate behaviour that urges users to gain more information about the messages they receive through any of the many ways, like reaching out to the MyGov helpline to receive crucial updates or searching the web.

“This campaign helps convey our collective responsibility and the need to always verify before sharing information,” Shivnath Thukral, India Head of Public Policy for WhatsApp, said in a statement.

WhatsApp announced the MyGov helpline (+919013151515) last month.

To promote the MyGov helpline, the WhatsApp campaign conveys the precautionary measures that people should take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 like to cough in elbows, stay home, wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and to keep social distancing.

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“This campaign helps convey our collective responsibility and the need to always verify before sharing information,” said Shivnath Thukral, India Head of Public Policy for WhatsApp in a statement. Pixabay

People will be able to see these ads on Facebook and Instagram, and message the helpline with just one tap, WhatsApp said.

Read More: Lockdown is Helping me Design New Routines and Choreographies: Ashley Lobo

In a bid to curb misinformation related to COVID-19, WhatsApp, which has 400 million users in India, last month said it would limit frequently forwarding messages to 1 chat at a time.

WhatsApp has faced scrutiny as rumours spread on the platform have been linked to several mob killings in India.

The instant messaging platform, however, said that 90 per cent of messages sent are between two people and it has seen a significant increase in the amount of voice and video calling across India during the COVID-19 pandemic. (IANS)

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Now, 8 People Can Join Video, Voice Call at a Time on WhatsApp

In the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing times, more people are turning to voice and video calling on WhatsApp and other platforms

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To access the new limit on WhatsApp calls, all participants in a call need to update to the latest version of WhatsApp available on iPhone or Android. Pixabay

Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Tuesday doubled the number of participants in a video or voice call from four to eight people at a time on its platform.

To access the new limit on WhatsApp calls, all participants in a call need to update to the latest version of WhatsApp available on iPhone or Android.

Over the last month, people on average are spending over 15 billion minutes talking each day on WhatsApp calls, well above a typical day before the pandemic, said the company.

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“Just like written messages, all those calls are protected with end-to-end encryption. We have built group calling in a way that makes it available for as many users as possible, including people on lower-end devices and slow network conditions,” WhatsApp said in a statement.

In the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing times, more people are turning to voice and video calling on WhatsApp and other platforms.

WhatsApp
Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Tuesday doubled the number of participants in a video or voice call from four to eight people at a time on its platform. Pixabay

Facebook last week announced Messenger Rooms that will allow group video calls of up to 50 people. In Facebook Messenger Rooms, the users can post links in their News Feed or in Groups or event pages.

When a room is created, anyone can join via their browser, though hosts can opt to “lock” rooms to new guests to prevent party crashers.

ALSO READ: Now, Hackers Targetting People With Links To Fake Zoom HR, Payroll Discussion Video Meetings

“We know people may want different ways to connect while they’re at home, which is why WhatsApp is also available on (video calling device) Portal,” informed WhatsApp.
According to the company, over 700 million people are making calls on Messenger and WhatsApp daily. (IANS)