China Disrupts WhatsApp Service in Online Clampdown

SHANGHAI — The last of Facebook’s major products that still worked in China was disrupted by the government on Tuesday, as Beijing broadly tightened its controls over the internet.

The product, WhatsApp, a messaging app used across the globe, was partly blocked by Chinese filters, leaving many unable to send videos and photos and some also unable to send text-based messages.

The disruption of WhatsApp was the latest in a long line of big digital services running up against China’s “Great Firewall,” the country’s system of internet filters and controls. In recent weeks, the government has appeared to increase its grip, an online crackdown fed by a perfect storm of politically sensitive news, important events and a new cybersecurity lawthat went into effect last month.

Sites hosting popular foreign television shows have had videos taken down, and tools used to skirt the censors have faced more frequent disruptions. In an article, the mouthpiece of the country’s Communist Party scolded the Chinese internet company Tencent over a popular video game, calling it too addictive.

The news environment has intensified the government’s online scrutiny. In recent weeks, the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo died in detention. A Chinese billionaire in the United States accused senior leaders of graft, using his platform on Twitter. And Hong Kong commemorated the 20th anniversary of its handover to China.

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To complicate matters, the 19th Party Congress — where top leadership positions are determined — is just months away. The government puts an increased emphasis on stability in the run up to the event, which happens every five years, often leading to a tightening of internet controls.

WhatsApp, which had generally avoided major disruptions in China despite the full block of Facebook and Instagram, appears to have become a victim of those circumstances.

The blocks against WhatsApp originated with the government, according to a person familiar with the situation who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the disruption. Security experts also verified that the partial disruption in WhatsApp started with China’s internet filters.

“According to the analysis that we ran today on WhatsApp’s infrastructure, it seems that the Great Firewall is imposing censorship that selectively targets WhatsApp functionalities,” said Nadim Kobeissi, an applied cryptographer at Symbolic Software, a cryptography research start-up.

The actions by the Chinese government are another setback for Facebook in a country that has been difficult for the world’s largest social network to crack. Its flagship site was blocked in 2009 after ethnic unrest in western China; Instagram followed in 2014 during protests that fall in Hong Kong.

Beginning in late 2014, Facebook began an aggressive campaign to woo the Chinese government and get its main social network back into the country. As part of the courtship, Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, showed off his language chops at a conference and later dined with President Xi Jinping during a state visit to the United States.

But Facebook’s efforts have slowed over the past year, and it has little to show for itself. Instead of getting a new product into China, the internet giant now faces the reality that its last app standing is under threat of being pushed outside the walls of Chinese censorship.


Facebook and Instagram are already blocked in China. Now, WhatsApp has been hit. CreditNg Han Guan/Associated Press

A spokeswoman for WhatsApp declined to comment.

Since taking power almost five years ago, Mr. Xi has presided over a consistent and deepening suppression of internet freedom. He has been vocal in calling for China to establish sovereignty online, and has set up a new internet regulator to consolidate controls over the web.

The scale of the recent actions shows the increasing muscle of the Chinese government, which has strengthened this year.

In recent months, a number of virtual private networks, tools that allow users in China to access the broader internet around the world, were removed from app stores or shut down. China’s telecom regulator said it would ban unauthorized VPNs starting in February 2018.

The new cybersecurity rules, broad and vague, have left Western companies uncertain of how they will be applied and what impact they could have on a difficult operating environment. The government has put strong emphasis on the law, which could serve as a watershed for how the internet is managed and foreign companies are policed.

This month, Apple opened its first data center in China. The company said the move was made to comply with the law that calls for companies to store their data in China.

The disruption of encrypted messaging programs like WhatsApp and censorship circumvention tools like VPNs shows a desire to take almost total control over how the internet is used.

WhatsApp is hugely popular around much of the globe, but the platform is not widely used in China, where local messaging app WeChat dominates. Even so, WhatsApp provides encrypted messaging, making it a useful tool for many Chinese to communicate or do business outside the country or in Hong Kong.

Paul Triolo, the head of geo-technology at Eurasia Group, said that a possible next step would be for China to target other encrypted messaging apps like Signal, pointing out that such apps “represent a small but growing and potentially important hole in the Great Firewall.”

“The ministries and support organizations that undergird the Great Firewall must constantly prove they can keep abreast of technological change, and encrypted messaging apps are just the latest in a long string of innovations that have drawn the attention of the technical wizards behind the Great Firewall,” Mr. Triolo said.

The apparent crackdown is part of the jockeying among Chinese ministries ahead of this autumn’s congress to show that they are doing their job, according to a government tech policy adviser who declined to be named because of possible retribution over speaking to foreign news media. While there is a real push to make it harder to use VPNs, he said the new rules set to take effect next year are unlikely to be so extreme that they entirely prevent individuals from being able to use such tools.

Some in the Chinese government are worried that the excess censorship and controls are damaging the country’s ability to access crucial information, like scientific papers and other educational resources. As such, there have been calls for a more surgical way to block specific material, rather than a sledgehammer approach that takes out entire services.

In the case of WhatsApp, it is not clear whether the targeted censorship of videos and photos was intentional, or if it was just a prelude to a more complete block. Previous partial blocks have sometimes led to full bans, or they have eventually been removed by the government, and service restored.

Beijing’s track record with other American social networking services does not bode well for WhatsApp. Besides Facebook and Instagram, Twitter, Google and Gmail are all blocked in the country.

“It’s like when Gmail first got throttled, the blockage was very uneven,” said Lokman Tsui, a professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.


Facebook Launches Online Civil Courage Initiative in the UK

Facebook Launches Online Civil Courage Initiative in the UK


  • Facebook will launch the Online Civil Courage Initiative in the UK
  • Looks to train and fund local organizations to combat extremist content
  • EU said that social networks have improved in removing hate content

Facebook is launching a UK programme to train and fund local organizations to combat extremist material online, as Internet companies attempt to clamp down on hate speech and violent content on their services.

Facebook, which outlined new efforts to remove extremist and terrorism content from its social media platform last week, will launch the Online Civil Courage Initiative in the UK on Friday, the company said in a statement.

The new initiative will train non-governmental organizations to help them monitor and respond to extremist content and create a dedicated support desk so they can communicate directly with Facebook, the company said.

“There is no place for hate or violence on Facebook,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer. “We use technology like AI to find and remove terrorist propaganda, and we have teams of counterterrorism experts and reviewers around the world working to keep extremist content off our platform.”

The British government has stepped up attacks on Silicon Valley Internet companies for not acting quickly enough to take down extremist online propaganda and fostering “safe places” where extremists can breed following a string of attacks in recent months in London and Manchester.


Facebook, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Twitter have responded by saying they have made heavy investments and employed thousands of people to take down hate speech and violent content over the past two years. Security analysts say the efforts have dramatically reduced the use of these platforms for jihadist recruitment efforts, although more work needs to be done.

Prime Minister Theresa May has sought to enlist British public opinion to force the US Internet players to work more closely with the government rather than proposing new legislation or policies to assert greater control over the web.

Earlier this week, May urged fellow European Union leaders at a meeting in Brussels to join her in putting pressure on tech companies to ‘rid terrorist material from the internet in all our languages’.

She called for the Internet companies to shift from reactively removing content when they are notified of it, towards greater use of automatic detection and removal tools – and ultimately preventing it from appearing on their platforms in the first place.


6 Skills You Can Learn Online for a Lucrative and Productive 2017

6 Skills You Can Learn Online for a Lucrative and Productive 2017

I am so much in love with this era we are in — an era where there is so much information online for self-development. A focused and determined person can learn many skills online and use them to diversify his or her income. With all the advanced, digital technology in this world, no one should give excuses of not having one or two skills to remain relevant and competitive.

In the days of yore, skill acquisition and dissemination were limited to certain geographical locations because of the low level of technological know-how. However, the advent of sophisticated technology — which propelled the development of many apps, software and social media — has made skills and knowledge easily disseminated and accessible.


There are countless websites readily available for you to acquire valuable skills and knowledge for free or with little fee for a productive 2017. These skills are:

1. Web design and development.

Web design and development is a highly sought-after skill. This is because we are in a digital transformation age where every business — small, medium and large scale — is extremely interested in showcasing their products and services to the world through their websites.

There are lots of sites that can teach you how to design and develop a website. By acquiring these skills, one is adequately positioned to scramble for millions of small, medium and large scale businesses who are contemplating launching or updating their websites.

2. Statistical data analysis.

Statistical data analysis is another vital skill that is in high demand by companies, entrepreneurs and students. The knowledge of Mini-tab,  Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and E-view, just to name a few, makes a person highly desirable.

As a researcher, I have smiled all the way to the bank numerous times because I have some knowledge of statistical data analytical software. Most students in tertiary institutions need an expert data analyst — companies too, especially when sophisticated software is needed for forecasting market shares, profit and other vital results that will aid managerial decision making.

You can learn these data analytical tools online, and consult an expert for clarification should you encounter some difficulties trying to grasp the calculations and interpretation of results.

3. Fashion designing.

Humans are always in need of food, clothes and shelter. These are three basic necessities of life. Both rich and poor are in need of clothes. In our contemporary world where fashion is always a trending issue, everybody wants to look classic and beautiful. This has made fashion designers kings and queens in their profession.

There are sites that can teach you how to draw fashion or make fashion sketches, and there are lots of online videos that can teach you make dresses. The beauty of having this skill lies in the way customers flock around fashion designers within few hours of setting up an office.

Fashion designing is synonymous to a football match; there is never a dull moment from the blast of the whistle. What do I mean? Even at the apprentice stage, customers are already flocking around you.


4. Make-up.

Believe it or not, the makeup business is growing at an incredible rate. There are lots of online videos that can teach you the rudiment of make up. An interview with Ifeoma Agu, the CEO of Ivonmelda Makeova, shocked me. She is an expert in hairstyle but felt she needed a makeup skill to enhance her business growth.

However, since she couldn’t afford the training fees, she decided to download lots of YouTube videos on makeup. The rest is history. She is one of the most sought-after makeup artists in her state as a result of her quality service delivery. Remember, she learned this skill for free. You can do same.

5. Business research.

Many people want to venture into business while those who are already in business are seeking other businesses to invest in. Many companies and investors are actually seeking well-researched business ideas to invest in.

As a business researcher, you can work on your own terms. You decide whether to sell your business ideas or become a partner in the businesses. At the end of the day, you will be surprised to see that you are a co-owner of chains of businesses.

Acquiring this skill is not as difficult as you think. I am saying this because most people are indifferent when it comes to research. All you need is to be patient, focus and determined. Read online articles and journals or watch videos on business research. It’s also a good idea to consult an expert.

6. Own a blog.

You can actually learn how to create and run a blog online. By systematically following the step-by-step instructions on creating a blog, you’ll be acquiring the skill to create more blogs for prospective clients. You can create a blog for your web design and development business, statistical data analysis, fashion designing, makeup and business research businesses.


Successful bloggers today started by simply creating a blog. The rest is history. You too can join the leagues of successful bloggers by meticulously following their footsteps.

There is so much to be gained by acquiring one or more skills online. Big organizations looked for people with the talents and skills discussed above in 2016. And 2017 will not be different. Learn a skill online today for a productive year.



[Source:- Entrepreneur]

CIA makes 12m pages of declassified documents searchable online

The CIA kept files and documents on media organizations and individual reporters.

The CIA has published more than 12 million pages of declassified documents online, making decades of US intelligence files more easily accessible and searchable.

The agency published the roughly 930,000 documents that make up the CIA Records Search Tool (Crest) on Tuesday. The online publication of the files was first reported by BuzzFeed News.

Although all of the documents in Crest were part of the public record before Tuesday, they could only be inspected by visiting the National Archives in Maryland in person. Once at the archives, just four computers available only during business hours provided access to Crest. A lawsuit from the open-government nonprofit MuckRock prompted the CIA to make the documents available online. Further pressure to publish the documents came from the transparency advocate and journalist Michael Best, who began steadily scanning and uploading the documents one by one.

“Previously, in order to directly access Crest, a researcher was required to visit the National Archives at College Park, Maryland,” according to the program’s webpage. “CIA recognized that such visits were inconvenient and presented an obstacle to many researchers.”

The Crest database features a wide range of different files, including former secretary of state Henry Kissinger’s papers, and documents on Nazi war crimes. The collection also has files on UFOs, recipes for invisible ink and reports on research into telepathy.

This research included the Stargate Project, an initiative to investigate the possibilities of telepathy for intelligence use. A 1995 review of the research concluded it was “unclear whether the existence of a paranormal phenomenon, remote viewing, has been demonstrated”.

The CIA also kept files and documents on media organizations and individual reporters. A letter attached to a photocopy of a Mother Jones article from 1978 describes the newsmagazine as a “locally-produced scandal sheet published by a dissident group”. The author and the recipient of the letter have been redacted from the files.

An internal CIA letter notes the appointment of Carl Bernstein, one of the reporters who exposed the Watergate scandal, as the Washington program manager for ABC. The sender of the letter notes his desire to “find out what kind of person he is”. Crest includes dozens of documents related to Bob Woodward, the other half of the team that reported on Watergate, and a brief 1985 noteexpresses concern about Woodward’s future reporting: “I learned from CIA source that Washington Post’s Watergate reporter, Bob Woodward, has cast evil eye on CIA chief Bill Casey,” the note reads. “Woodward is questioning everyone who ever knew Casey.”

Woodward published a book about Casey’s time as director of central intelligence in 1987.

A 1995 executive order requires all non-exempt historically valuable documents that are more than 25 years old to be declassified.



[Source:- Gurdian]

How Fitbit Keeps Its Customers Moving in Social Media and Online Communities

Fitbit, a global leader in wearable fitness technology, has made it easier and more fun for millions of people to live a healthier life. And they’ve done it by focusing on the experience.

“Customer experience is really paramount to everything we do here,” says Allison Leahy, the director of community at Fitbit, adding that in the online space, “Fitbit is trying to be everywhere you are and more”.

The company employs a bilateral approach to online customer care, focusing separately on social media and communities, though both groups report up through the same department. While Leahy considers the two channels “different disciplines” with different tools (and hence different agents), one similarity is that Fitbit does a lot of customer listening in both. The team has a system to “incorporate all of our great customer feedback into the products and services we develop,” she adds.


Community platforms are used “as a way to organize information around emerging issues and to troubleshoot and gather information from customers who may be experiencing a certain type of issue so that we can get a good assessment and bring that back to our engineering teams,” says Leahy. Weekly reporting shares quantitative and qualitative feedback to the product and engineering teams, and the most popular ideas get integrated into future product releases.

One recent such example was “Reminders to Move,” a buzzing reminder on the Fitbit device that encourages the user to get up and take some steps. Users in the community forums had self-titled it “Idle Alert,” but the core idea was the same.

A blogger for much of her career, Leahy was an early supporter of communities. “It was really through blogging that I started to notice the power of online comments and user engagement and develop an interest in the psychological aspects of online community,” she said. “In particular, what happens when you carve out spaces for debate and self-expression and even support spaces for brands and companies online.” She helped Fitbit launch its first customer-centric community platform.

“Customer experience is really paramount to everything we do here.”

— Alison Leahy, Director of Community for Fitbit

Here’s how Fitbit approaches social media and communities differently, according to Leahy:

Social Media: “In social care our key practice revolves around fully resolving all customer inquiries, doing some of that broad social listening, providing customers with a little bit more delight from the brand, and giving customers a really fast support experience.”

Communities: “Community is really where we have more time and attention from users. It’s also more of a one-to-many platform and our community forums are really rooted in a peer-to-peer support philosophy. So we’re constantly impressed with the wealth of knowledge and expertise our users bring to the table… they’re often the best suited to answer each other’s questions and motivate each other to get the most of their Fitbit experience.”

Fitbit promotes both community and Twitter support on its Contact Us page, alongside telephone, email, and chat support. Leahy says that social media is “definitely a high CSAT [Customer Satisfaction] channel and it’s a great channel from a business standpoint because cost per contact is a little lower than some of the other channels”. But when questions can’t be answered completely in social media, the other service channels come in handy.

Leahy joined me for Episode 44 of the Focus on Customer Service Podcast, sharing Fitbit’s best practices for being successful in both social care and online community management.




[Source:- Socialmediatoday]

Apple adds collaborative features to iWork to match Office Online, Google Apps

As you surely can’t have failed to notice if you own a Mac, yesterday we waved goodbye to OS X as macOS Sierra was officially unleashed, and alongside the new operating system, Apple has also refreshed its iWork apps for the desktop.

You’ll need to be running Sierra for the new versions of Pages, Keynote, and Numbers for the Mac (versions 6.0, 7.0, and 4.0 respectively), and the apps have seen the introduction of a major new feature – namely real-time collaboration as seen in the likes of Google Docs and Microsoft’s Office Online.

In other words, you can share documents with other users, and all edit the same file simultaneously (whether they’re using a Mac or iOS device – this capability is already on the mobile apps), being able to see changes as they’re made. However, note that Apple still labels this feature as a ‘beta’, so it’s still being honed and you may encounter glitches as a result.

But nonetheless, it’s a powerful and useful addition to the Mac productivity suite, particularly for businesses with staff scattered around diverse locations.

Keeping tabs on things

A number of other features have also been tacked on, and both Pages and Keynote now have tabs that allow you to work with multiple documents (or presentations) in one window (browser-style).

It’s also now possible to open Pages ’05 or Keynote ’05 files, and edit them, in these new applications. And all three apps now have wide colour gamut image support.

As ever, you’ll find these refreshed versions on the Mac App Store. If you’ve not upgraded to macOS Sierra yet, then check out our guide on how to download the operating system.



[Source:- Techrader]

Quikr acquires online hiring website Hiree

Quikr acquires online hiring website Hiree

Online classifieds company Quikr has acquired online hiring platform Hiree in a bid to strengthen its own QuikrJobs offering.

Hiree will be merged with QuikrJobs and will operate out of Quikr headquarters, the company said in a statement.

Quikr said that the collective unit will create a recruitment platform that connects over four million active candidates with recruiters across the country and will make a larger talent pool available to recruiters for entry-level, blue collar as well as white collar lateral hires.

“We launched QuikrJobs with an aim to bridge the gap between Bharat and India for the recruitment industry. We have created a successful business model there and it’s now time to level-up. Speed is in our DNA and Hiree’s offerings aimed at shortening recruitment cycle times is a great match with that,” Quikr Founder and CEO Pranay Chulet said.

Hiree Founders Manjunath Talwar and Abhijit Khasnis said, “Joining forces with Quikr allows us to double-up our focus on innovating in recruitment space for both job seekers and our customers. Our customers will now gain the benefits of Hiree’s technology and massive scale of Quikr in parallel,”


[Source: Techradar]

What’s Next for Social Media: Anticipating Changes in the Online World [Infographic]

Social media has become a huge help for organizations when it comes to sharing ideas, collaborating online, handling business transactions, and building brands. With the advent of social platforms, reaching out to different types of audiences is now possible with just one click.

According to Statista, the number of social network users around the globe reached 1.4 billion in 2012, and is expected to increase to 2.13 billion in 2016.

Nowadays, social media marketing is one of the most effective strategies employed by businesses and professionals – but what’s on the horizon for the social space in the coming years?

This infographic from SlideGenius gives some oversight into the latest trends which are likely to shape the future standing of social and the Web more widely.

What’s Next for Social Media: Anticipating Changes in the Online World [Infographic] | Social Media Today
[Source:- Socialmediatoday]

Nasscom Says It Welcomes 100 Percent FDI in Online Marketplaces

Nasscom Says It Welcomes 100 Percent FDI in Online Marketplaces

Indian IT industry’s representative body Nasscom on Tuesday welcomed the opening up the retail e-commerce segment to 100 percent foreign equity through the clause of automatic route.

“The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) guidelines are an indication of the government identifying the segment as an electronic intermediary, operating a technology platform to facilitate sales and transactions between third party sellers and buyers,” it said in a statement in Bengaluru.

The move is expected to benefit not only foreign multi-brand retail entities like Amazon and eBay, but also single-brand overseas chains like Adidas, Ikea and Nike. Indian players like Snapdeal, Myntra, BigBasket and Flipkart can also opt for foreign equity tie-ups.

“Reiteration of FDI policy ‘as is’ on the services sector, on sale of services through e-commerce and add-on services like order fulfilment services offered to third party sellers will help in ending misinterpretations in the domain,” said Nasscom.

Noting that restricting sales of a vendor to 25 percent of the total sales in the marketplace may prove to be restrictive, especially for high value goods, it said the e-tail industry may face difficulties in case of electronic goods.

“Marketplaces have no control on how a product is priced and organise ‘sales’ where vendors participate. As the segment offers consumers choices and attractive prices, we hope such consumer-friendly practices similar to sales being offered by retailers will not be restricted,” the statement added.

Observing that the guidelines on allowing conditional foreign equity into the sunrise sector was overdue, BMR Advisers partner Vivek Gupta said the government had chosen to bless the retail e-commerce model with safeguards that it should not act like a retailer.

“The initiative comes after the emerging sector attracted $10 billion investments amid legal challenges and ED (enforcement directorate) inquiries at various stages,” he said in a statement.


[Source:- Gadgets.ndtv]

3 Simple Online Errors Killing Your Business

3 Simple Online Errors Killing Your Business | Social Media Today

With all the challenges your business already faces – competitors in your field, changing marketplaces, etc. – the last thing you want is to fail over something simple and solvable.

Here are a few online errors to avoid – or fix, as the case may be: <!–break–>


In 2016 you’re more likely to get praise and complaints via Twitter or Facebook than a webform or phone call – and it’s the complaints you especially have to worry about.

Why? Because as social listening experts at NetBase point out, “When that one customer rants to their 500+ Facebook friends, including influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers, your brand can find itself in serious trouble.”

Not to mention, 67% of consumers look to social platforms like Twitter and Facebook to solve customer service issues, according to JD Power. And there are plenty of other stats that drive the point home: social customer service isn’t optional.

Not everyone has caught on, however, so you can stand out even more by being one of the businesses that has. And handling problems well can sometimes impress a customer enough that they become more loyal than they were before.

But part of the trick with social customer service is timeliness – so if you can’t keep up with your audience, it’s a good idea to look into social monitoring software. There are plenty of options for every budget, so don’t think being a small business counts you out. It doesn’t. And sometimes you have to rely on outside expertise.


Most business owners are not web developers, but these days you don’t have to be, with so many great options for setting up functional, beautiful websites.

But whose job is it to make sure all your site’s features are working at any given time? Would you know if your site was crashing, or had pages returning a 404 error? You probably wouldn’t, unless one of your site’s visitors took the time to alert you in some way, but most won’t bother. They’ll just go on to the next site.

This doesn’t just apply to smaller businesses though. In fact, Searchmetrics asserts that the more people involved in your website’s operations, the better the chances you’ll have errors you don’t know about.

So how do you make sure your site is working properly at all times? Software like Visibility Guard saves the day by crawling your site to find the most common errors like:

  • HTML status codes like 301 redirects or 404s
  • Meta and x-Robots-Tag “No-index” and No-follow
  • Canonicals and redirect chains
  • Significant changes to word count in content

And if all that looks like a foreign language, even more reason to have a program monitoring things on your behalf. You don’t have to be a tech wizard yourself, but you have to know what matters and get things done.


Speaking of knowing what matters – your site needs to be optimized for mobile. No business should be making this mistake anymore, but surprisingly plenty still are. Why the big deal? Mobile digital media time has surpassed desktop at 51%, and that number’s only going to get bigger.

Mobile optimization isn’t just about design, it’s about function. Consumers will move on quickly if your pages load too slowly, or they can’t navigate to the page they want easily. Even if your product or service is the best around, if your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you’ll lose business.

In fact, mobile users may judge you by your non-mobile-optimized site, assuming your business is outdated as well. It’s a hard truth – and one that’s avoidable.

And though mobile optimization can be costly, it doesn’t have to be. Most web builders – even drag and drop options like Weebly, etc. – have mobile builders now. And if you do have a bit of technical know-how, Moz has a number of suggestions for optimizing.

So whether you’re into DIY, or have enterprise-sized resources, you have options for making sure the small stuff isn’t what trips you up. Running a business isn’t easy – but a few simple fixes to your digital strategy can make it feel like it is.

[Source:- Socialmediatoday]