Exclusive: Instagram, Whatsapp down for thousands of users: Downdetector

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc’s platforms including WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram were down for thousands of users on Thursday, according to outage tracking website Downdetector.com.

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Central bank approves WhatsApp e-cash payments – Brazil

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s central bank on Tuesday cleared the way for Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service to let its users send each other funds using the Visa Inc and Mastercard card networks, according to a statement.

The central bank had initially suspended WhatsApp’s bid to allow users to send money via chats when it was first proposed last June, saying it could damage Brazil’s existing payments system in terms of competition, efficiency and data privacy.

“(We) are making the final preparations to have payments on WhatsApp available in Brazil as soon as possible,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement. The messaging platform has over 120 million users in Brazil.

Still, WhatsApp is only allowed to do peer-to-peer payments, not involving merchants. The regulatory approval also comes months after the central bank launched its own instant payments system in November, called Pix, which has since been widely adopted.

WhatsApp to move ahead with privacy update despite backlash

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp said on Thursday it will go ahead with its controversial privacy policy update but will allow users to read it at “their own pace” and will also display a banner providing additional information.

In January, the messaging platform informed users it was preparing a new privacy policy, under which it could share limited user data with Facebook and its group firms.

It sparked a global outcry and sent users to rival apps Telegram and Signal, among others, prompting WhatsApp to delay the new policy launch to May and to clarify the update was focused on allowing users to message with businesses and would not affect personal conversations.

In India, the messaging app’s biggest user base, Facebook executives fielded questions from a parliamentary panel on the need for the changes, days after the country’s technology ministry asked the messaging platform to withdraw them.

In its latest blog bit.ly/3ufc9Eq, WhatsApp said it will start reminding users to review and accept updates to keep using the messaging platform.

“We’ve also included more information to try and address concerns we’re hearing,” it added.

WhatsApp’s announcement comes as parent Facebook moved to block all news content in Australia on Thursday, facing backlash from publishers and politicians, prompting a senior British lawmaker to label the move as an attempt to bully a democracy.

WhatsApp changes: Signal messaging platform stops working as downloads surge

Messaging platform Signal said on Friday it was experiencing “technical difficulties” as it worked to accommodate millions of new users.

Some users reported messages failing to send on both the mobile and desktop apps for several hours.

The company has seen a huge uptick in interest since its rival WhatsApp unveiled new privacy terms last week.

On Twitter, Signal said it had added servers “at a record pace” and was working to restore service.

“Millions upon millions of new users are sending a message that privacy matters,” it said in a tweet.

View original tweet on Twitter

Both Signal and Telegram, another free-to-use encrypted messaging app, have benefited from discontent sparked by WhatsApp’s updated terms and conditions.

WhatsApp told its two billion users they must allow it to share data with its parent company Facebook if they wished to continue using it.

This does not apply to users in the UK and Europe – but the notification was sent to everyone.

WhatsApp stressed that its practice of sharing data with Facebook was not new, and was not being expanded. It said there had been “confusion” about its message, which initially gave people until 8 February to accept its updated terms or stop using the service.

WhatsApp has now changed the cut-off date to 15 May, saying it would use the time to clear up misinformation.

“We can’t see your private messages or hear your calls, and neither can Facebook,” WhatsApp said in an earlier FAQ blog post.

According to data from analytics firm Sensor Tower, Signal was downloaded 246,000 times worldwide in the week before WhatsApp announced the change on 4 January, and 8.8 million times the week after.

In India, downloads went from 12,000 to 2.7 million. In the UK, they leapt from 7,400 to 191,000, and in the US from 63,000 to 1.1 million.

On Wednesday, Telegram said it had surpassed 500 million active users globally. Downloads jumped from 6.5 million in the week starting 28 December, to 11 million during the following week.

During the same period, WhatsApp’s global downloads shrank from 11.3 million to 9.2 million.

What does WhatsApp share with Facebook?

WhatsApp has said the data it shares from users outside the EU and UK does not include messages, groups or call logs.

However, it does include:

  • phone number and other information provided on registration (such as name)
  • information about the user’s phone, including make, model, and mobile company
  • internet protocol (IP) addresses, which indicate the location of a user’s internet connections
  • any payments and financial transactions made over WhatsApp

WhatsApp extends ‘confusing’ update deadline

WhatsApp has extended the deadline by which its two billion users must either accept its updated terms and conditions or stop using the service.

The original cut-off date was 8 February, but users now have until 15 May to take action.

The firm was criticised for sending the notification, which seemed to suggest changes to the data it would share with its parent company Facebook.

It said there had been “confusion” about its message.

Since the announcement and notifications went out across its platform, millions of people around the world have downloaded alternative encrypted messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram.

  • WhatsApp users flock to rival message platforms

In a blogpost, WhatsApp said personal messages had always been encrypted and would remain private. It added that its practice of sharing some user data with Facebook was not new, and was not going to be expanded. 

“The update includes new options people will have to message a business on WhatsApp, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data,” it said.

In an earlier FAQ post, WhatsApp explained that the data that it already shares with other Facebook companies includes:

  • phone number and other information provided on registration (such as name)
  • information about your phone, including make, model, and mobile company
  • your IP address, which indicates location of your internet connection
  • any payments and financial transactions made over WhatsApp

However this does not apply in Europe and the UK, where different privacy laws exist.

By Zoe Kleinman
Technology reporter