WhatsApp Starts Testing ‘Suspicious Link Detection’ Feature to Limit Spam Circulation: Report

WhatsApp Starts Testing 'Suspicious Link Detection' Feature to Limit Spam Circulation: Report

HIGHLIGHTS

  • WhatsApp is reportedly testing a Suspicious Link Detection feature
  • The feature helps detect suspicious links
  • It is currently under testing and unavailable even for beta testers

In another move to put a stop to the circulation of spam on its platform, WhatsApp is working on a Suspicious Link Detection feature. The new feature, which is presently said to be under testing, helps users detect suspicious links available within their WhatsApp messages. It is a part of the WhatsApp beta for Android version 2.18.204 and later, though not available for the masses at the initial stage. The latest development hits amidst different measures by the Facebook-owned company to limit the circulation of spam and fake news through the instant messaging app that has over 1.5 billion monthly active users worldwide. A previous WhatsApp beta version brought a ‘Forwarded’ label that was aimed to make a dent in the growth of fake news distribution through the app and help people easily identify forwarded messages.

Leveraging the Suspicious Link Detection feature, WhatsApp analyses the links available in a message to detect a suspicious link, reports WABetaInfo. The messaging app is said to automatically identify whether the link in a received message is redirecting to a fake or alternative website that could potentially harm users. Upon detection of a suspicious link, the message is marked with a Red-coloured label to let users easily understand its behaviour.

The screenshots posted by the WABetaInfo folks highlight that WhatsApp also warns users when they try to open the link with a message that reads, “This link contains unusual characters. It may be trying to appear as another site.” It has also been claimed that WhatsApp analyses the link locally. This suggests that the links will not be sent to WhatsApp servers and the user data won’t be compromised for sake of detecting suspicious links.

whatsapp suspicious link detection wabetainfo WhatsApp

Photo Credit: WABetaInfo

 

We weren’t able to spot the reported Suspicious Link Detection feature on any of our Android devices using the latest WhatsApp beta version 2.18.207. However, since the WABetaInfo team claims that WhatsApp is currently testing the feature, we can expect its arrival at least for WhatsApp beta users sometime in the coming future. It is also reported that with some other improvements, the feature will also get an ability to let users manually report a suspicious link.

Earlier this month, WhatsApp came in the headlines for the massive spread of misinformation that allegedly led to the lynching of a large number of innocents in India. The IT ministry even asked WhatsApp to take preventative actions to restrict the proliferation of fake messages on its platform. The messaging service on its part revealed that it had started taking help from local experts to fight spam and fake news and announced ‘research awards’ for researchers interested in limiting the circulation of misinformative messages in the country. This was a step in addition to the primary moves such as the ‘Forwarded’ label and ‘Send Messages’ group controls to retain WhatsApp’s domination in the market of instant messaging apps. Particularly in India, WhatsApp serves over 200 million monthly active users.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

WhatsApp Launches Media Blitz to Dispel India’s Fake News Woes

WhatsApp Launches Media Blitz to Dispel India's Fake News Woes

A newspaper vendor reading a newspaper with a full back page advertisement from WhatsApp

Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging platform on Tuesday published advertisements in key Indian newspapers to tackle the spread of misinformation, its first such effort to combat a flurry of fake messages that prompted mob lynchings.

Beatings and deaths triggered by false incendiary messages in India, WhatsApp’s biggest market with more than 200 million users, caused a public relations nightmare, sparking calls from authorities for immediate action.

“Together we can fight false information,” read full-page advertisements in some top English language-newspapers, part of a series that will also feature in regional-language dailies.

It urged users to check information before sharing it and cautioned them about the spread of fake news.

“We are starting an education campaign in India on how to spot fake news and rumours,” a WhatsApp spokesman said in a statement.

“Our first step is placing newspaper advertisements in English and Hindi and several other languages. We will build on these efforts.”

During the week, it aims to publish similar advertisements in regional dailies across India, from the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan in the west to the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh in the north, it added.

WhatsApp has previously said it is tweaking features and giving users controls in its effort to rein in false messages.

It is also testing the labelling of messages to show users when a message received is just a forward, rather than one created by the sender.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Govt proposes to replace UGC with new commission

The new Higher Education Commission of India Act is likely to be tabled in Parliament during the monsoon session. Photo: Mint

The new Higher Education Commission of India Act is likely to be tabled in Parliament during the monsoon session. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: The Union government on Wednesday unveiled the draft of a bill to replace higher education regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) with a Higher Education Commission.

The new commission to be established through an Act will not have grant-making authority, will promote reduced inspection system and will focus more on quality outcome at universities and colleges.

Human resource development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar, who claimed this is a key education reform, said the new body will be more representational. Its board will have senior bureaucrats from the ministries of HRD, skills and entrepreneurship, and science and technology, in a way ending the monopoly of HRD ministry in regulating higher education.

“The draft Act is in accordance with the commitment of the government for reforming the regulatory systems that provide more autonomy to higher educational institutes to promote excellence and facilitate holistic growth of the education system,” Javadekar said in a tweet.

He said the new Act will separate grant-making functions, end inspection raj, focus on academic quality and empower the new commission to enforce quality issues.

According to the draft bill, university and college managements found wanting and violating penalty imposed by the commission “shall be liable for prosecution as per procedure laid down under the Criminal Procedure Code and may be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend up to three years”.

The new body will specify learning outcomes for colleges and universities, prescribe teaching, assessment, research standards.

UGC reform was part of the BJP’s general election manifesto in 2014. To be sure, a similar restructuring was discussed and promoted by the previous United Progressive Alliance government but could not become a law due to lack of support from the parliament.

Over the last four years, the HRD ministry has deliberated on several models like a single regulator for higher education by merging UGC, National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE); however, the plans were not taken forward.

“This Act provides for establishing the Higher Education Commission of India repealing the University Grants Commission Act, 1956,” said the draft bill which is open for public feedback till 7 July.

“Whereas for promoting uniform development of quality of education in higher educational institutions, there is a need for creation of a Body that lays down uniform standards, and ensures maintenance of the same through systematic monitoring and promotion, Whereas the existing regulatory structure as reflected by the mandate given to University Grants Commission required redefinition based on the changing priorities of higher education and allow its growth,” underlines the draft bill on need for a change.

The new commission shall consist of a chairperson, vice chairperson and 12 members to be appointed by the central government. The secretary of the commission will act as the member-secretary. Of the 12 members, three members will represent union government namely: secretary of higher education, secretary of ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship and secretary, department of science and technology. Besides, there will be an “industry doyen” among the board members.

How to fund child’s education: Take a loan or use own funds?

Keeping your accumulated savings invested and taking an education loan instead can benefit you. Photo: Alamy

Keeping your accumulated savings invested and taking an education loan instead can benefit you. Photo: Alamy

Any big-ticket spending requires you to either have the required funds in place or a financing option. When dealing with long-term financial goals, such as higher education of children, you have the advantage of planning much in advance. Here’s how you can go about the planning.

Start early

A lot of parents have an inclination to send their children abroad for higher education, at least at the post-graduate level, said Suresh Sadagopan, a certified financial planner and founder of Ladder 7 Financial Advisories. “In that case, the planning needs to start really early. They would need a horizon of at least 10-15 years. When we talk of international education at post-graduate level today, most likely it is not going to happen below ₹40 lakh,” he said.

Click here for enlarge

How do you work towards saving that amount? Prakash Praharaj, founder, Max Secure Financial Planners, said that the future cost of a particular course needs to be calculated taking into account at least 10% annual inflation. “Then calculate the current assets and investments accumulated for these goals. Then the remaining gap for the aimed amount is to be filled through monthly SIPs over the years,” he said.

Starting an SIP of ₹5,000-7,000 in an equity fund for 15 years and increasing it by 10-20% each year could help. However, Sadagopan said, given the fact that there are so many ongoing expenses these days, including other loans, it becomes difficult for parents to put aside a huge amount for the child’s post-graduation alone.

Consider taking loan

Even if you have been working on creating a higher education corpus, you need to consider taking an education loan. At present, the total expenses for higher education abroad could be in the range of ₹1 crore per child, Sadagopan said.

“A realistic thing that parents need to realise is that the child’s higher education is not their only goal. Retirement is also an important goal and they need to be aware of the fact that you can get a loan for all other requirements but not for retirement,” he said.

Own funds versus loan

But if someone has already accumulated the required amount, why should another repayment burden be taken on? The answer lies in two things, Praharaj said. “A cost benefit analysis suggests that taking an education loan and keeping the accumulated amount invested works in your favour. Moreover, it also helps in developing a sense of responsibility in the student. The realisation that a repayment has to be done by them keeps them focussed,” he said.

The math of keeping your accumulated savings invested and taking an education loan instead suggests that taking a loan results in significant benefits. For instance, if ₹1 crore is kept invested and an education loan for the same amount is taken, at the end of nine years, including the repayment holiday on the education loan, the net benefit could be around ₹87 lakh (see graph).

This includes the tax saved on repayment of loan. Borrowers of education loans can claim deduction on the interest paid, though not on the principal amount. Also, unlike in home loans, there is no limit to the amount that can be claimed as deduction.

Sadagopan said it is better that the parents keep the money with themselves and let the child take the loan. “In future if the child is struggling to find a job and pay back, you can step in to help at that point,” he said.

[“Source-livemint”]