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Tag: WhatsApp

Clearing history at Facebook

Thursday, 3 May, 2018 0 Comments

Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference has ended and the announcements that captured most attention were a cheaper Oculus Go headset, enhanced Instagram Stories and dating. The latter gave rise to much mirth since Facebook is always vigilant when it comes to relationships, data and not doing harm. Right?

The really big announcement was underreported, though. It’s the upcoming “Clear history” functionality and Mark Zuckerberg posted about it himself:

“In your web browser, you have a simple way to clear your cookies and history. The idea is a lot of sites need cookies to work, but you should still be able to flush your history whenever you want. We’re building a version of this for Facebook too. It will be a simple control to clear your browsing history on Facebook — what you’ve clicked on, websites you’ve visited, and so on.”

Note 1: Facebook is using your Instagram photos to train its AIs: “Using Instagram images that are already labeled by way of hashtags, Facebook was able to collect relevant data and use it to train its computer vision and object recognition models.”

Note 2: WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum is exiting because of “privacy issues” and Cambridge Analytica is closing, citing “loss of business.”

Facebook has become synonymous with creative disruption, er, destruction.


The Age of Hypocrisy

Wednesday, 21 March, 2018 1 Comment

Without a hint self-reflection the Guardian asks: “Facebook: is it time we all deleted our accounts?” Why is this Hypocrisy with a capital H? Because the same Guardian has a community of almost eight million “likers” on Facebook and it uses the platform to flog its products. There’s no sign of the Guardian deleting that account, though.

The same goes for the much-praised post by Whatsapp co-founder Brian Acton on Twitter: “It is time. #deletefacebook.” As the world knows, Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014 and the company implemented the policy Acton is objecting to now in 2010, four years before he trousered $6.5 billion of Zuck’s money. Acton knew full well what Facebook was when he sold WhatsApp to them but now, with those Facebook billions in the bank, he’s wants us to believe that he’s a privacy advocate. That’s rich, Brian, and it’s every bit as convincing as the Guardian pontificating about deleting Facebook accounts when it’s using data gleaned from Facebook to market its wares.

This is the Age of Hypocrisy


Chat is king

Wednesday, 26 April, 2017 0 Comments

Jam Koum? Yan Koum? Jan Koum? Russian journalist Darya Luganskaya, who writes cryptic English, snags a rare interview with the reticent co-founder of WhatsApp, who co-trousered $19 billion with Brian Acton when Facebook acquired the app in 2014.

Darya Luganskaya notes that the messenger generation is not that into making phone calls and asks, “Why people turn to text communication so fast?”

Jan Koum: “I can not speak from the others. I personally prefer not to call, because I am afraid to disturb people. Everybody has very rich life, and it seems to me I can distract them from something important. Somebody could have dinner with his family, prepare the homework with his children or attend an important meeting. And then all of a sudden his phone rings, but my call could be absolutely unimportant. I may just want to ask: how is it going?

Usually I try to plan the call. I ask in the messenger if I could call, for example, in half an hour. For me it is much easier to chat via messengers.”

The WhatsApp user base of more than one billion messaging people is cool with that.


Apps away!

Monday, 10 April, 2017 0 Comments

As Facebook nears two billion users, Instagram is heading towards a billion. Meanwhile, Messenger and WhatsApp continue to surge onward and upward.

Apps


Infobesity and infoxication, now and then

Monday, 25 April, 2016 0 Comments

There’s a synonym for infobesity doing the rounds and it’s infoxication. If neither makes sense, here’s the older version: information overload. For those who think infobesity and infoxication are silly abuses of medical terminology, Stewart Butterfield has two words: cognitive diabetes. And he should know. Stewart Butterfield is the CEO of Slack, a cloud-based teamworking tool with some three million users and a value close to $4 billion. When he raises a red flag about messaging addiction, it’s time to listen.

Speaking at the Bloomberg Businessweek Design Conference earlier this month, Butterfield compared our obsession with Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and, yes, Slack, to the diabetes epidemic, when “suddenly, as a species, we got infinite, free calories,” he said. Now that we have “infinite, free communications,” the messaging addiction has become a form of “cognitive diabetes.”

None of this is new, of course. Early in the 20th century, the poet and critic T. S. Eliot worried that the “vast accumulations of knowledge — or at least of information — deposited by the nineteenth century” were creating “an equally vast ignorance.” In his essay, “The Perfect Critic,” for the literary journal Athenaeum in 1920, he put it like this:

“When there is so much to be known, when there are so many fields of knowledge in which the same words are used with different meanings, when every one knows a little about a great many things, it becomes increasingly difficult for anyone to know whether he knows what he is talking about or not.”

When every one knows a little about a great many things… Must put this post on Twitter, Kik, Whatsapp, Skype and Facebook now.

Hash tag wall


WhatsApp: privacy vs. transparency

Wednesday, 6 April, 2016 1 Comment

“We live in a world where more of our data is digitized than ever before. Every day we see stories about sensitive records being improperly accessed or stolen. And if nothing is done, more of people’s digital information and communication will be vulnerable to attack in the years to come. Fortunately, end-to-end encryption protects us from these vulnerabilities.”

So say WhatsApp co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton in their latest blog post, which is about their decision to protect messages between WhatsApp users with an end-to-end encryption protocol so that third parties and WhatsApp cannot read them, meaning that the messages can only be decrypted by the recipient.

In light of the Panama Papers exposé, the debate about privacy vs. transparency has reached a new level. Would Mossack Fonseca have profited from end-to-end encryption of communications between their officers and clients? Public opinion suggests that the massive leak of the Panamanian law firm’s data is a civic benefit and that transparency is the greater good. Jan Koum and Brian Acton, however, are now promising that the end-to-end encryption protocol they’re deploying will make it impossible for “third parties” (police, journalists, etc.) to access chats, group chats, images, videos, voice messages and files on their platform. Given this, will it be possible for people to have a consistent position on privacy vs. transparency? Can both co-exist?

Update: privacy vs. transparency: Meet the ‘Drone Vigilante’ Who Spies on Sex Workers.


Paja escribir!

Monday, 29 June, 2015 0 Comments

Figures from the fourth quarter of last year showed that 78 percent of South African mobile internet users were active on WhatsApp. Malaysia was second on the global list and, in third place, was Argentina. What’s driving this? Well, WhatsApp is simple to use, it’s free, it’s fast and there are no ads, no games or no gimmicks. And there’s another thing in South America: voice messages. WhatsApp introduced voice messages in 2013 and users in Argentina have fallen in love with the feature.

Writing in Motherboard, Kari Paul notes that the voice message fits with Argentina’s talkative culture. “The volleying of voice messages often starts off with the same phrase: ‘Paja escribir,’ or ‘Too lazy to write.’ Then the exchange begins.” The result? “Everyone in Buenos Aires Is Communicating by Voice Memo Now.”


Job creation in the New Economy

Thursday, 12 March, 2015 0 Comments

“WhatsApp crossed 1B Android downloads. btw our android team is four people + Brian. very small team, very big impact.” So tweets @jankoum. One billion Android downloads is an amazing achievement, but the boast of this being done with just five people is alarming as it confirms the theory expressed in The Jobless Future that the technologies which make modern abundance possible are enabling the production of much more output using far fewer people.

Jan Koum


Does capitalism work? Ask Jan Koum.

Thursday, 20 February, 2014 2 Comments

Jan Koum was born in 1977 and raised in a small village outside of Kiev. The family home had no electricity or hot water and his parents rarely talked on the phone in case it was tapped by the state. At 16, Koum and his mother immigrated to the US, where she took up babysitting and he swept the floor of a grocery store to help make ends meet. When his mother was diagnosed with cancer, they lived off her disability allowance. When she died in 2000, the young Ukrainian was alone in America; his father had died in 1997. He taught himself computer networking by buying manuals from a used book store and returning them when he was done. He got a job a Yahoo but in his LinkedIn profile, he unenthusiastically describes his time there with the words, “Did some work.”

He left in September 2007 and spent a year traveling around South America. On his return, he applied, and failed, to find work at Facebook. In January 2009, he bought an iPhone and realized that the seven-month old App Store was about to generate a whole new industry of apps. His thinking was it would be cool to have a free messaging app where the login was your own phone number. Koum chose the name WhatsApp because it sounded like “What’s up,” and a week later on his birthday, 24 February 2009, he incorporated WhatsApp Inc. in California. Yesterday, Jan Koum signed the $19 billion Facebook deal paperwork on the door of his old welfare office in Mountain View, California. (Photo courtesy of Jan Koum)

Jan Koum