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WhatsApp issues privacy advisory for users amid Russia-Ukraine crisis

This follows Russia's start of a "special military operation" into Ukraine, with attacks coming from several directions and aimed at multiple cities.

  • This follows Russia's start of a "special military operation" into Ukraine, with attacks coming from several directions and aimed at multiple cities.
  • According to the company, it is taking several steps to combat misinformation, including increasing third-party fact-checking capacity.
  • Meanwhile, Meta stated that, in addition to collaborating with third-party fact-checkers, the firm is taking steps to remove content that breaches its policy.

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WhatsApp issues privacy advisory for users amid Russia-Ukraine crisis

New Delhi: WhatsApp, a Meta-owned messaging service, has offered a series of critical considerations that could assist its users in Ukraine and throughout the world in securing and defending their privacy during the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

"Our hearts go out to everyone touched by the conflict in Ukraine." "Here is some essential information for our users in Ukraine and throughout the world on how to preserve and safeguard your privacy," it posted on Twitter.

"As always, your personal messages and calls are encrypted end-to-end by default, so they cannot be intercepted by any government," the Twitter thread said.

This follows Russia's start of a "special military operation" into Ukraine, with attacks coming from several directions and aimed at multiple cities.

Since then, Russian troops have captured territory and advanced on key cities such as Kyiv, Ukraine's capital. Meanwhile, both countries' cyberwarfare has already begun.

In a statement, WhatsApp's parent company, Meta Platforms, said it has established a special operations centre staffed by experts from across the company, including native Russian and Ukrainian speakers, who are monitoring the platform around the clock, allowing the company to respond to issues in real time.

"In Ukraine, we've added various safety features, such as the option for people to lock their Facebook profile, the removal of the ability to browse and search friends lists, and other tools on Messenger," Meta explained.

According to the company, it is taking several steps to combat misinformation, including increasing third-party fact-checking capacity in Russian and Ukrainian, increasing transparency surrounding state-controlled media sites, prohibiting advertisements from Russian state media, and demonetizing their accounts.

"We strongly urge everyone to implement two-step verification to defend against hackers who may try to lock you out of your account," WhatsApp warned. You can also enable the fingerprint scanner. When this option is selected, you will be required to use your fingerprint to access the app."

"As a reminder, we have message forwarding limits, and we identify communications that did not originate with the sender, so consumers are aware that anything is information from a third party," it said.

Meanwhile, Meta stated that, in addition to collaborating with third-party fact-checkers, the firm is taking steps to remove content that breaches its policy.

"When they rate anything as untrue, we place this material lower in Feed so that fewer people see it," the company explained.

Meta also stated that "we have extended our third-party fact-checking capability in Russian and Ukrainian across the region and are striving to provide more financial support to Ukrainian fact-checking partners."

In addition to labels from Meta's fact-checking partners, the business is warning users in the region when they try to post some war-related photographs that the company's systems detect are more than a year old, so people are aware of outdated or misleading images that may be taken out of context.

Furthermore, because it recognises the importance of breaking news events, it has made it easier for fact-checkers to access and grade articles regarding the war, according to Meta. Furthermore, the company stated that it uses "keyword detection" to collect relevant content in one location, making the duties of fact-checkers easier.

"We're also providing users more information to select what to read, believe, and share by adding warning labels on content judged incorrect by third-party fact-checkers and applying labels to state-controlled media outlets," according to the business.

"We remain sensitive to new patterns and are prepared to take extra action to fulfil the demands of this protracted struggle," the statement concluded.

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