Here is how WhatsApp in India is trying to curb country’s mob killing problem

23 Jul 2018

Person using WhatsApp in India. Image: Rahul Ramachandram/Shutterstock

The past week has seen WhatsApp introduce new rules to clamp down on mob killings in India, while social media giants aim to make controlling your data much easier.

These days, it is hard for Facebook to go a week without making headlines, and the past week was no different as it suspended its link with analytics firm Crimson Hexagon regarding access to APIs in order to investigate concerns about the collection of user data.

Boston-based Crimson Hexagon offers “AI-powered consumer insights” for brands and has contracts with government agencies around the world.

Facebook is now worried that many of these government contracts – including some from the US and Turkey – could compromise its privacy policy.

Staying with Facebook, the social network agreed to share 95pc of the data it holds on the recent referendum on the Eighth Amendment in Ireland.

The data relates to the amount of money spent on ads during the lead-up to the referendum, providing more context on the extent of online advertising in Ireland after claims were made that many campaigns were illegally backed by foreign money.

WhatsApp aims to throttle message forwarding in India

With WhatsApp not in the running in China, India is by far its largest market, with more than 200m monthly users.

However, the company has had to respond quickly to a growing crisis in the country whereby its platform is being used to circulate messages that lead to mob killings, resulting in the deaths of 18 people since April of this year.

In a blogpost, the company said it was launching a test to limit the amount of forwarding within groups on the platform that can contain up to 256 people.

Applying to users across the world, the change will also remove the ability to quickly forward pictures or videos to other people, but Indian users are expected to see even greater restrictions.

“We believe that these changes – which we’ll continue to evaluate – will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app,” the company said.

Tech giants team up to let you share data across apps

Trying to get the major tech companies to share data with each other has always been a hassle for the consumer but this appears to be changing in our post-GDPR world with the Data Transfer Project (DTP).

Despite a less-than-flashy name, the project is a new, open source platform that lets you move content, contacts and any other data easily between the likes of Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter.

Using existing methods, you could only download a copy of your data directly from a service, but that didn’t solve the problem of moving it to another platform.

So far, only a white paper on the project has been made available, and the companies involved said that DTP is still very much in development, meaning it could be a while yet before the public gets to try it.

Uber and Lyft driver suspended for secretly live-streaming rides

For a period of time, little did many passengers of Jason Gargac of St Louis, Missouri, know they were being live-streamed to Twitch as he drove them around as an Uber and Lyft driver.

According to the St Louis Post-Dispatch, various passengers were seen vomiting, kissing, and revealing gossip about their friends and colleagues.

While the act of recording people is not illegal in the US state, it is required that passengers are informed they are being recorded, which in this instance appeared not to be the case.

After news of Gargac’s activities spread, both Uber and Lyft announced they were suspending him from their platform, while Twitch also announced the suspension of his channel.

In a statement, Uber said: “The troubling behaviour in the videos is not in line with our community guidelines. The driver’s access to the app has been removed while we evaluate his partnership with Uber.”

Person using WhatsApp in India. Image: Rahul Ramachandram/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic