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WhatsApp Video and Photo Messages Reportedly Blocked in China

China has reportedly started blocking some features of the WhatsApp messaging service, as authorities continue to tighten controls over the country's internet.

WhatsApp users began reporting problems with sharing content on the chat platform yesterday, with many unable to send video and pictures. Despite initial fears of a communications-wide ban of the Facebook-owned service, text-based messages within the app appear to be unaffected.

WhatsApp's reach in China is small compared to homegrown chat service WeChat, which boasts 900 million users but is routinely subjected to state monitoring and censorship. However, Chinese users concerned about privacy have increasingly turned to the encrypted WhatsApp platform to communicate with friends and relatives as well as businesses abroad.

Facebook and Instagram have remained blocked by China's Great Firewall since 2009 and 2014, respectively. Encrypted messaging service Telegram was also blocked inside China after it became popular with the country's human rights lawyers, while several domestic VPNs – which are commonly used to evade censorship and access services abroad – were recently shut down after authorities said they were unauthorized to run.

China appears to be clamping down on potential sources of politically sensitive news as it prepares for a major leadership reshuffle in Beijing. The event happens every five years and often leads to a tightening of online controls to project an air of stability in the country. The death of jailed Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo last week also spurred censors into action, with commemorations on WeChat reportedly blocked by authorities.

(Via The New York Times.)

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WhatsApp gains chat pinning, comprehensive file sharing & more in latest update

As part of a broader set of capabilities recently teased for the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging platform, the app has now gained a trio of new features in the latest update. WhatsApp version 2.17.40 for iOS brings a chat pinning feature, multi-format file sharing and other improvements.

With the pinning feature, you can make it so your favorite chats remain at the top of the list, so you can quickly find them. To use this feature, just swipe right on a chat in the conversation list, then tap a Pin or Unpin option.

The app has also expanded the file sharing feature, which now allows you to share any type of file with one or more recipients. To send files of any type, open a chat, tap the plus icon at the bottom then choose the Document option.

In the popup menu, select your favorite storage provider like iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive and so forth (any app that includes an iOS Document Storage extension should be available from the menu).

And lastly, when you receive multiple photos the app now lets you tap and hold on the group of photos to quickly forward or delete all of them in one fell swoop.

Download WhatsApp for iPhone, iPad and iPod for free from App Store.

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Latest WhatsApp Update Brings Pinned Chat and Multi-Format File Sharing Features

The latest update to WhatsApp Messenger rolled out on iOS on Sunday and adds a couple of notable new features, one of which is the ability to share files of any type within conversations.

Version 2.17.40 of WhatsApp is the first to allow any file type to be sent using the Document option in the Share menu. Previously files were limited to PDF documents, but now the only limitation is file size, which is officially 100MB.

It's also now possible to pin chats to the top of the chat list to quickly find important conversation threads. To pin a chat, swipe right on the chat and tap the pin icon. Additionally, users can now tap and hold on groups of multiple photos they've received to quickly forward or delete them.

Version 2.17.40 also includes a couple of new hidden features that still appear to be in testing, suggesting they'll soon become public in a forthcoming update. According to WABetaInfo, they include in-line YouTube video playback with Picture-in-Picture support and an emoji search function.

Finally, a new Recall feature is expected to be enabled in 2.17.40+ that allows users to delete texts, images, videos, GIFs, documents, quoted messages, and even Status replies after they have been sent, as long as the Recall feature is used within a five-minute window.

WhatsApp is a free download for iPhone from the App Store. [Direct Link]

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Facebook sics AI on terrorist posts, but humans still do the dirty work

Enlarge / A picture taken in Vertou, western France, shows Facebook logos. (credit: LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)

Facebook has admitted that "AI can't catch everything" and it remains heavily dependent on human moderators to flush out terrorist posts on the free content ad network.

In a blog post that comes days after the UK and France signalled a crack down on big tech firms that fail to take action against the sharing of extremist content on their sites—Facebook said it was, for the first time, talking publicly about the methods it employs to to try to combat terrorism.

It was keen to highlight how artificial intelligence was being used to attempt to limit the proliferation of such content on a site that has close to two billion users worldwide.

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WhatsApp Gains Photo Filters and Automatic Albums, ‘Recall’ Feature Reportedly Imminent

WhatsApp gained a handful of new features this week, including photo filters, quick replies, and automatic albums in chat threads.

The photo filters in WhatsApp 2.17.30 are similar to those found in Snapchat and Instagram: users can now add one of five filters to photos, videos, and GIFs before sending, enabling them to enhance the look or correct poor lighting. Pop, black and white, cool, chrome, and film filters can be selected with a simple swipe up on the image.

Image via TechCrunch

In addition, WhatsApp now automatically generates album views when multiple images or videos are sent consecutively in the same chat window, thereby avoiding the usual stream of individual images that clog up a thread.

Elsewhere, users can reply to a specific message in a thread by swiping across it, which takes it to the bottom of the chat window where they can type a response. WhatsApp says the feature is particularly useful during fast-moving group chats when a particular message can get quickly lost higher up the thread.

Finally, WhatsApp is said to be readying a much-requested hidden "unsend" feature in another imminent update to the app.

According to fan site WABetaInfo, Whatsapp will enable "Recall" in version 2.17.30+, allowing users to delete texts, images, videos, GIFs, documents, quoted messages, and even Status replies after they have been sent, as long as the Recall feature is used within a five-minute window.

WhatsApp is a free download for iPhone from the App Store. [Direct Link]

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