WhatsApp this week: A big change to status videos, more Covid-19 helplines

WhatsApp, the world’s largest instant messaging platform, is seeing a massive surge in traction as millions of people around the world are staying indoors due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The surge is massive in markets like Europe. WhatsApp’s siblings Instagram and Facebook has also seen a jump in usage.

With millions of people relying on digital tools to connect with their friends and families, telecommunication networks are under immense pressure. To ensure the critical services run smoothly on the web, telecom operators and streaming service players are taking some drastic measures – lowering streaming quality.

WhatsApp seems to have also joined the fray with a big change to its popular Status section. The company has reported restricted the ability to status videos to 15 seconds from earlier 30 seconds. The change could possibly help reduce the traffic on the server infrastructure. Wabetainfo reports the change has been rolled out in India which also happens to be WhatsApp’s largest market.

More helplines

WhatsApp is also emerging as the governments’ favourite tool to reach out to millions of people and more importantly keeping them updated about the Covid-19 pandemic. India was one of the first countries to embrace the platform to launch an interactive-automated helpline number for the pandemic.

The Australian government has partnered with Facebook and Atlassian to provide the latest coronavirus news directly to users through WhatsApp.

The UK government has also launched a coronavirus chatbot on WhatsApp to help users.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already announced a similar tool to help inform users on the pandemic.

Return of WhatsApp Gold scam

WhatsApp Gold scam made a return this week. Obviously, there’s nothing called WhatsApp Gold. But this hasn’t stopped scamsters trying to target users in the name of offering what they describe as the premium version of WhatsApp.

Apart from WhatsApp Gold, there are plenty of hoaxes that are doing the rounds as the platform has seen more usage over the last few weeks. According to a TechRadar report, a video called Martinelli is being circulated on the platform and is said to damage phones when watched. The website points out the video, if it exists, doesn’t necessarily affect the phones but hidden malware codes could cause big security breach. Users are recommended to avoid tapping on links coming for unverified sources.

Tackling fake news

Rumours and hoaxes have long been a big pain point for WhatsApp. There have been demands of integrating fact-checking tools within the software. It appears WhatsApp is finally working to address this problem. The upcoming feature will allow you to search for messages that are labelled as the ‘Frequently Forwarded Messages’. The feature is expected to arrive on Android first followed by iOS.

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