Apps

Twitter and the Indian government are involved in a nasty face off

The winner is a new app called Koo

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Twitter India

Twitter finds itself stuck in an odd situation — comply with government law or continue self-moderation? Who decides what can stay up on the platform and what cannot? The new challenges of governing social media has received a lot of attention globally, and the debate has intensified in India recently.

Following a massive protest demonstration in Delhi on January 26, the Indian government asked the American social media giant to take down 257 accounts, allegedly spread misinformation, and incited violence. The country recently enacted three new farm laws that have received considerable opposition in some parts of the country.

After the notice was sent, Twitter briefly suspended many of those accounts at the government’s behest but reinstated them a few hours later due to public outrage. The accounts included media publications like The Caravan as well as handles supporting the farmer protests.

Many view this as a crackdown on dissent and feel the government is trying to silence genuine opposition. However, the government asked Twitter to take down another 1,200 accounts on February 4, justifying that security agencies flagged them due to their close association with Khalistan’s separatist movement.

Government vs. Twitter

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY) has sent a non-compliance notice to Twitter. Critics say the government uses its power to suppress freedom of speech and the Twitter takedown sets a precedent for the future.

Twitter chose to remain defiant, issuing a public statement that its employees’ safety was a top priority but that the tweets must continue to flow. In fact, it went all-in and countered the government by saying it has acted on several blocking requests from the government in the past 10 days. But it declined to take any action on news publications, journalists, activists, and politicians as it believes that doing so “would violate their fundamental right to free expression under Indian law.”

And this is where the government lost its patience. It was quick to say that Twitter “is welcome to do business in India” but must respect local laws. As a slight nudge, the ministry opened an account on Koo, India’s local alternative of Twitter, and posted a “koo” there. This prompted many to believe that a Twitter ban could be near the horizon; alas, this is just speculation.

India soon issued a very strong-worded statement, “Due to India’s conducive business environment, open Internet and a firm commitment to the freedom of expression, Twitter as a platform has grown significantly in India in the last few years…Twitter, as a business entity working in India must also respect Indian laws and democratic institutions.”

What does the future hold?

The discussion now revolves around content moderation and maintaining its integrity. Should a private for-profit company be allowed to censor or monitor what kind of content is being posted online? Can we let governments dictate policies? Especially when this gives them an easy option to crush dissent and offers more control.

The Indian government has also accused Twitter of  “differential treatment” in the US and India. The platform was quick to remove then-President Donald Trump when Capitol Riots were underway but did little to curb the flow of misinformation when thousands had seized India’s Red Fort as a sign of protest.

In the end, Twitter said it had permanently blocked over 500 accounts and moved an unspecified number of others from view within India. It remains to be seen how Twitter and government move forward, but one thing’s clear — a new wave of nationalism wants a local Twitter alternative.

With more than 700 million internet users, India is a huge and important market for global tech companies. Every company wants to lead the market due to its incredible size and potential. TikTok lost the market forever, but Reels was able to grab the opportunity. Can Twitter afford to go up against the government, from a business point of view?

Apps

TikTok can detect what you type on screen

Through its in-app browser

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No one ever really thinks about in-app browsers. Though it’s one of the most unseen features of an app, the in-app browser allows for a moment of convenience when you need to open a link. However, a new cautionary tale is sharing the risks of using the feature. Particularly, TikTok and its in-app browser are reportedly capable of logging your keystrokes.

TikTok just can’t get out of its privacy-infused hole of controversy. For years, the platform has faced an unending barrage of controversies linked to whether the app leaks information to China. As a change, the latest issue isn’t exactly geopolitically charged. However, it won’t do the company any favors, either.

Recently, security researcher Felix Krause created a tool to analyze whether an app’s browser can potentially scrape data and change information for the user. The researcher also tested the tool with the world’s top apps. And, unfortunately for the platform, TikTok found itself on the top of the risky list.

According to the tool, TikTok can inject JavaScript, modify a page, and fetch metadata. It’s essentially a keylogger. To its credit, Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook all have the same capabilities.

However, the video-sharing platform has one key element that puts it above the rest: It doesn’t allow users to open links using the device’s default browser. You’re forced to use TikTok’s own browser when you open a link on the app.

Of course, there are a few caveats. For one, apps can bypass the tool, blocking users from seeing what in-app browsers are capable of. Secondly, the tool’s findings don’t necessarily mean that the app itself is malicious; it only indicates what it’s capable of. To reflect that, TikTok has said that it has not used the data for any malicious purposes.

SEE ALSO: TikTok might launch TikTok Music, its own music service

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Spotify will soon sell you tickets to concerts

It’s experimental for now

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Decades into the information era, buying tickets is still a harrowing experience for the modern-day fan. If you’re not lucky enough to nab great tickets through the usual ticketing sites, you’ll have to try your luck with the ferocious gray market of scalpers. In an experimental feature, Spotify has a new way for fans to see their favorite artists live: by selling tickets directly.

Over the years, Spotify has grown beyond the scope of music streaming. The platform now has sections dedicated to podcasts and talk shows. Now, if you know where to look, there’s also a section for selling tickets.

Notably, this isn’t Spotify’s first incursion into the world of live events. If you go through the list of categories, a Live Events section will take you to a page of concerts happening near you. However, clicking an event will only take you to the normal ways to get tickets, such as through Ticketmaster.

In contrast, the new Tickets page, spotted by Chris Messina (via TechCrunch), will sell you tickets directly through Spotify. Currently, the experiment is limited to a handful of artists like Crows, TOKiMONSTA, and Annie DiRusso. Additionally, each entry will only host pre-sale tickets. After that, sales will take place in the usual sources.

Spotify’s price will also incorporate booking fees going into the company’s revenue. However, unlike other sources, Spotify’s tickets promise to be transparent about pricing.

As the page indicates, the final Tickets page will merge with the current Live Events page. However, it’s still an experiment, even if you can already buy tickets now. Spotify has yet to announce when the feature will come to the general public (and to more artists).

SEE ALSO: Spotify launches new recommendation feature, Enhance

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WhatsApp will finally block screenshots for View Once photos

Update coming soon

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WhatsApp’s View Once feature was a massive step towards user privacy. The feature allows users to thaw out the fiery risk of the other person leaking sensitive information and media elsewhere. Well, sort of. Despite the feature’s disappearing nature, users can easily take a snapshot without fear of repercussions. Finally, WhatsApp is doing something about this critical flaw in an upcoming update.

WhatsApp is a constantly evolving product. Throughout the past few months, the app’s developers have experimented and shipped various updates to make everyone’s life easier. Now, compared to the previous accessibility-oriented updates, the upcoming one focuses more on privacy.

It’s not a set of brand new updates, though. At least one of the three updates — the ability to control who sees you online — was reported way back in June. Another one is relatively new: the ability to leave groups silently so as not to alert everyone that a user is leaving. Both of these are rolling out sometime this month.

Given what it fixes, the final update is more crucial. It will block users from taking screenshots of View Once messages. Once the update rolls out, WhatsApp will natively alert View Once viewers that screenshots are blocked for added privacy. Unfortunately, there is no timeline for the update. The announcement only has a “soon” placeholder for a release.

With social media the way that it is, privacy is an ever-growing concern that all users should prioritize. While platforms are still imperfect, small updates like these can surely help people protect their data.

SEE ALSO: WhatsApp officially launches emoji reactions, 2GB file sharing

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