Apps

Facebook may have been snooping on your call and SMS history for years

Only on Android, however

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It’s no secret that Facebook constantly tracks your activities and movement around its platforms. And while it’s also no surprise that the social media giant has access to your personal info beyond this, it’s still quite alarming to know just how far they can reach.

The latest controversy reportedly began with one man’s perplexing discovery: Dylan McKay downloaded his Facebook archive — something anyone can do — and found call and SMS history from his Android smartphone in the past two years on that data.

The archive is awfully detailed. Facebook had records of the specific names of the people McKay called and texted, as well as their phone numbers and how long they talked.

Ars Technica wrote a good explanation on how this could’ve happened to McKay and millions more. It involves older Android versions and how they loosely allowed third-party apps to dig through a smartphone’s local data.

What’s more interesting, however, is the statement the outlet got out of a Facebook spokesperson:

“The most important part of apps and services that help you make connections is to make it easy to find the people you want to connect with. So, the first time you sign in on your phone to a messaging or social app, it’s a widely used practice to begin by uploading your phone contacts.”

This data-collecting scheme is apparently in line with Facebook’s friend recommendation algorithm, which helps first-time users find people to connect with. Interestingly, only Android users are affected, and it’s likely because of the way the operating system handled app permissions.

Android has since been more transparent when it comes to giving apps specific data permissions with newer versions of the OS. Unfortunately, with all the recent controversies Facebook is going through, we can’t say the same about the social media platform.

To be fair, the representative made it clear that contact uploading is optional and can be deleted any time through the web version of the network.

Apps

Top iOS 15 Features to look out for

FaceTime for Android, anyone?

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The next version of iOS rolls out this fall. There are new features such as FaceTime for Android, new Memojis, rebranded Safari and Messages app, personal identification card compatibility for Wallet, and more.

But in this video, we rounded up our Top 10 iOS 15 Features you should look out for.

Watch the whole video by clicking here.

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Apps

Voilà AI Artist turns your selfies into 3D cartoons, caricatures

And many more artistic renditions!

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Voilà AI Artist

From FaceApp to Zepeto, plenty of avatars from these apps proliferated social media platforms. Most recently, the Internet went crazy with cute avatars once more. You probably noticed how people have been posting a 3D cartoon version of themselves, akin to a Disney character. It’s all thanks to Voilà AI Artist — a photo-editing app using artificial intelligence to turn your photos into artistic renditions.

Get yourself painted as a Renaissance painting.

Voilà AI Artist

Have your selfies transformed into a 3D cartoon from an animated movie.

Turn your photos into a 2D cartoon…

Voilà AI Artist

… or even have your face drawn as a caricature.

Voilà AI Artist

Voilà AI Artist is developed by WeImagine.AI., a Canada-based team of creators and developers. The app is free to download on the App Store and Google Play Store. If you’re concerned about the app’s privacy policy, read it here.

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The US revokes Trump’s executive order that banned TikTok

A level-playing field for everyone

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President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday that sets criteria for the government to evaluate the risk of apps connected to foreign adversaries. It’s specifically meant for apps like TikTok and WeChat, which President Trump banned.

It should use an “evidence-based approach” to see if they pose a risk to US national security, said Biden. If apps are found violating fundamental laws, a ban can be imposed. The task of identifying threats has been given to the US Commerce Department.

Trump’s executive order particularly targeted TikTok and WeChat. Instead, Biden is opting for a level-playing field for everyone. Biden shares the same concerns as Trump, but their approach is vastly different.

Under the previous administration, TikTok remained in a precarious position as Trump sought to ban the app unless it sold to an American company. A proposal was produced that would have seen Oracle and Walmart owning a US entity of the service and taking responsibility for handling TikTok’s US user data and content moderation.

But there were numerous legal challenges, and before they could be ironed out, Trump lost the election. The Biden administration’s new executive order does not affect those negotiations, which are a separate process. The order also calls upon federal agencies to develop recommendations – for future executive actions or legislation — on how to protect the data of US citizens.

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