Blackberry sues Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram over messaging app patents

BlackBerry to raise $605 million from shareholder Fairfax, others

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Canadian multinational company BlackBerry Limited on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against social media giant Facebook, alleging that the platform and its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram infringed on BlackBerry messaging app patents.

BlackBerry claimed that the company’s proprietary and patent-protected messaging product BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), was a cornerstone of modern mobile communications.

The company is now contending that its intellectual property has been infringed upon by Facebook’s “using a number of the innovative security, user interface, and functionality enhancing features that made BlackBerry’s products such a critical and commercial success in the first place,” according to The Verge.

In December 2016, the former mobile giant sold the rights to design, manufacture, and sell BlackBerry-branded phones to Chinese multinational TCL, leaving BlackBerry Limited in charge of the latter’s software and mobile security products.

BlackBerry sues Facebook said its patents cover cryptographic techniques to protect user privacy, the mixing of mobile gaming and mobile messaging, and now-ubiquitous user interface elements of mobile messaging products.

Some of those interface elements are as broad as notification design, the displaying of message timestamps, and the ability to tag friends and family in photos.

BlackBerry is seeking “redress for the harm caused by Defendants’ unlawful use of BlackBerry’s intellectual property,” which may include injunctive relief and monetary damages, according to the complaint.

In a statement authored by Facebook Deputy General Counsel Paul Grewal, which was given to Cheddar, the social networking company responded by saying that BlackBerry is looking to tax the innovation of others.

“BlackBerry’s suit sadly reflects the current state of its messaging business.

Having abandoned its efforts to innovate, BlackBerry is now looking to tax the innovation of others. We intend to fight,” the statement from Facebook said.


Now, control your Instagram’s Direct feature with more privacy options


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In a bid to give users enhanced control over what they share, Instagram announced modifications to its privacy settings, thereby enabling increased usage of Instagram Direct.

The social media company announced that a user who sends an ephemeral photo or video from the Instagram Direct camera can decide whether recipients can view it once, replay it temporarily or see a permanent thumbnail of it in the chat log, reports TechCrunch.

As per the current setting, all messages could be replayed temporarily but would later disappear.

With this update, users can exercise control over content being shared.

Instagrammers with the new replay controls can indulge in sensitive content by allowing them to prevent replays that can give people time to take a photo of their screen with another camera without triggering a screenshot alert to the sender.

Last week, Instagram announced the development of a feature which will notify users whenever someone has captured a screenshot of any image or video shared on ‘Stories’.

Facebook faces flak for removing birth photographer Moutrie’s video

If Facebook wants to be more influential and valuable, it has to be a platform that garners the trust of its users and advertisers. Photo: iSTOCK

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Facebook is facing criticism from fans of birth photographer Monet Nicole Moutrie after her ‘Birth Becomes Her’ video that amassed over 100 million views over a period of seven months was removed from the social media platform.

With no notice, Facebook has removed the video, Cosmopolitan reported on Monday.

Reacting to the Facebook response, many users are sharing the video again.

“Monet Nicole Moutrie was banned from Facebook again, this time for this video. Share far and wide!”, wrote one user.

Making her dissatisfaction public, Moutrie said in blog post that the video was removed for violating community standards.

“And I was effectively banned from Facebook because of it,” she said.

As per its community standards, Facebook removes “photographs of people displaying genitals or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks.”

It also restricts “some images of female breasts if they include the nipple, but our intent is to allow images that are shared for medical or health purposes.”

Moutrie said that there is nothing more antithetical to community than the restriction and censorship of birth, family and life.

Facebook, we are far more than usernames and passwords. We are living and breathing human beings, with real bodies, that were ALL born from real women,” she said.

“Facebook, LIFE should never be against your community standards,” she added.

The birth photographer pointed out that seeing and sharing real images of birth are important.

“They bring life and light into dark corners and places. They offer people around the world the opportunity to learn about their bodies and the process of reproduction,” she said.

Instead of banning birth videos, Facebook, Moutrie suggested, should focus on removing from its platform depictions of women that make young girls feel inferior, ugly, or lost.

Moutrie requested Facebook to put the video back up, adding that she is “scared but hopeful.”


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WhatsApp must stop sharing user data with Facebook within a month: France


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France’s privacy watchdog has issued formal notice to WhatsApp, asking the popular mobile messaging app to stop sharing user data with the parent company Facebook within a month.


The Chair of the National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) had asked WhatsApp to provide a sample of the French users’ data transferred to Facebook.


“The company explained that it could not supply the sample requested by the CNIL since it is located in the US, it considers that it is only subject to the legislation of this (US) country,” CNIL posted on its website late on Monday.


“As a result, the Chair of the CNIL decided to issue formal notice to the company WhatsApp to comply with the Data Protection Act within one month,” it added.


Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014.


On August 25, 2016, WhatsApp released a new version of its Terms of Service and Privacy Policy where it explained that “from now on, its users’ data are transferred to Facebook for three purposes: targeted advertising, security and evaluation and improvement of services (business intelligence)”.


“While the security purpose seems to be essential to the efficient functioning of the application, it is not the case for the ‘business intelligence’ purpose which aims at improving performances and optimising the use of the application through the analysis of its users’ behaviour,” noted Chair of the CNIL.


The watchdog considered that the data transfer for “business intelligence” purpose is not based on the legal basis required by the Data Protection Act for any processing.


It then decided to send a formal public notice in order to ensure the highest level of transparency on the massive data transfer from WhatsApp to Facebook Inc. and, thus, to alert to the need for individuals concerned to keep their data under control.

This is not the first incident where WhatsApp-Facebook data sharing has been condemned.


Germany has also ordered Facebook to stop collecting data from WhatsApp users.


After repeated criticism, Facebook also agreed to stop collecting WhatsApp user data in the UK.


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Twitter officially launches ‘threads’ to make ‘tweetstorms’ easier


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Twitter said on Tuesday it would make it easier for users to build “tweetstorms” by linking together posts in “threads” to expound at length at the famously short-form messaging service.


The move comes just a month after Twitter rattled the twitterverse by doubling the limit for tweets in most languages to 280 characters, in a bid to draw in more users and boost engagement. It was the first time the character cap was raised since Twitter was founded.


“A few years ago we noticed people creatively stitching Tweets together to share more information or tell a longer story,” product manager Sasank Reddy said in a blog post.


“We saw this approach (which we call ‘threading’) as an innovative way to present a train of thought, made up of connected but individual elements.”


An “add another tweet” button is being added to the Twitter application, along with a “show this thread” label that can be clicked to see posts woven together by authors.


Threaded tweets will be published at the same time, but more posts can be added, according to Reddy.


“Launching tweetstorms/thread today,” Twitter co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey tweeted from the firm’s San Francisco headquarters.


Twitter posts about a topic, typically fired off in rapid succession by someone intent on writing more than allowed by the character limit, have been referred to as “tweetstorms.”


Many replies to Dorsey’s post called on Twitter to focus on dealing with extremists, trolls, and “bots” abusing the service instead of packaging tweets together.


“This will make some of the thoughtful longform posts on Twitter more accessible to a broader range of people. Good,” read a reply to Dorsey from a verified account of venture capitalist Chris Sacca, whose investments included Twitter.


“But not sure why it launched before you make more moves to reduce hate speech, ban Nazis, eliminate Russian trolls, and stop the spread of fake news.”


Threads will be rolled out in an update to Twitter in the coming weeks, according to Reddy.



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Is your phone safe? Google detects Tizi app that steals FB, WhatsApp data


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Google has detected an app ‘Tizi’, which has been stealing information from call records and also from social media apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, and also take pictures from mobile phones without even displaying them on the screen of the device.


Tizi app is a fully featured backdoor that installs spyware to steal sensitive data from popular social media applications. The Google Play Protect security team discovered this family in September 2017 when device scans found an app with rooting capabilities that exploited old vulnerabilities,” a post on Google security blog said.


The company has removed the app from Play Store, notified all known affected devices and suspended the account of the app developer, the post dated November 27 said.


The post said that earlier variant of Tizi did not have rooting capabilities but it developed later on and thereafter started stealing sensitive information from devices.


“The rooting capabilities give an app full control of the device. It can bypass all restriction posted on it by the Android security system. An app with rooting is like a user using the device. Presence of such app on Google Play Store raises concerns about secure apps on the app store,” cybersecurity expert Jiten Jain said.


The post said that after gaining rooting capability, Tizi steals sensitive data “from popular social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, LinkedIn, and Telegram.”


The backdoor capability of Tizi was common to commercial spyware, such as recording calls from WhatsApp, Viber, and Skype, sending and receiving SMS messages, and accessing calendar events, call log, contacts, photos, Wi-Fi encryption keys, and a list of all installed apps


“Tizi apps can also record ambient audio and take pictures without displaying the image on the device’s screen,” the post said.


The post said that in and after April 2016 vulnerabilities in devices which could have been affected by Tizi were fixed with new software codes.


“If a Tizi app is unable to take control of a device because the vulnerabilities it tries to use are all patched, it will still attempt to perform some actions through the high level of permissions it asks the user to grant to it, mainly around reading and sending SMS messages and monitoring, redirecting, and preventing outgoing phone calls,” the post said.



WhatsApp messenger down for some users in India

WhatsApp down

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Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp messenger was down for some users in India, according to user accounts on Facebook and Twitter on Friday afternoon.


Users in other countries also reported a WhatsApp outage on social media. The extent of the outage was not immediately known, and Facebook was not immediately reachable for a comment.


India is WhatsApp’s biggest market with about 200 million of its billion-plus users.


Twitter users had some hilarious things to say as WhatsApp was down: