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NEW DELHI, August 7, 2018 (News Wires) - The telecom department has sought views of the industry on technical measures that can be adopted for blocking mobile apps like instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc in situations where national security and public order are under threat.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) on July 18, 2018, had written to all telecom operators, the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and others and asked for their inputs to block the applications under Section 69A of the IT Act.

"DoT in the letter had said that the Ministry of Electronics and IT and law enforcement agencies have raised issue around blocking of certain mobile apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telecom, etc to meet requirement under Section 69A of IT Act," an official source told PTI.

The Section 69A of IT Act talks about power to issue directions for blocking for public access to any information through any computer resource.

The law authorises the central government or any officer authorised by it to issue direction to block the information on Internet in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to them.

Recently, there have been widespread incidents of mob lynching in the country based on rumours spread through social media apps. The popular messaging app, WhatsApp, has been in the eye of storm over abuse of its platform for circulation of fake news that resulted in incitement of mob fury.

An IT ministry official, who did not wish to be named, said, WhatsApp has not committed itself on "traceability" and attribution of messages, which had been one of the key demands of the government.

Hence, the ministry's concerns have not been addressed and the potential for misuse still remains, the source said.

Last month, the government had expressed dissatisfaction over measures previously listed by WhatsApp for checking fake news that have, in several cases, triggered mob violence.

The IT ministry, in its missive, had said that WhatsApp cannot escape from its responsibility for such rampant abuse of its platform and needed to find originators of provocative messages.

The government, in its second notice to the Facebook-owned messaging service, had warned that in the absence of adequate checks, it will treat the messaging platform as 'abettor' of rumour propagation and legal consequences will follow.

WhatsApp told the government it is building a local team, including India head, as part of steps to check fake news circulation.

The mobile messaging platform also said that attributing messages on WhatsApp would undermine the private nature of WhatsApp and create the potential for serious misuse. It added that the focus of the firm is on improving its platform and working closely with others in society to help keep people safe.



TOKYO, August 7, 2018 (AFP) - Tokyo’s Gotokuji temple has long attracted spiritual visitors with its thousands of figurines of beckoning white cats, thought to bring good luck. But of late it has brought in another breed: Instagrammers.

Around 10,000 figurines of white cats seated with one paw raised are stacked and strewn around the temple, providing tempting fodder for social media mavens from Japan and abroad.

“I actually Googled ‘Instagram spots Tokyo’,” said Emily Lin, a 25-year-old tourist from Hong Kong.

“This was named one of the most ‘Instagrammable spots."

“These cats are like a symbol of luck in the Japanese culture,” she added, looking for new angles to capture the copious cats.

Ying-Chi Hsueh, 31, a photography student from Taiwan, also said he had been drawn to the temple by the photogenic felines.

“I saw a picture on Instagram and I came here using Google Maps,” he said.

They were among dozens of visitors there the week before tomorrow’s International Cat Day, snapping shots of the temple’s “maneki-neko” or “beckoning cat” figurines.

Temple lore says the popularity of the figures was inspired by an event at Gotokuji in the 15th century.

The priest at the time kept a cat called Tama, which according to legend one day strolled out of the temple and raised its right paw to beckon a powerful samurai lord inside - moments before a thunderstorm stuck.

Impressed by the cat who had helped him escape the storm, the lord became a patron of the temple.

Tama the cat has been immortalised as a stylised white cat figure considered a symbol of good luck in Japan and across Asia, usually depicted sitting on his back legs with one paw raised.

The figurines are often spotted in businesses and some versions feature a paw that moves back and forth.

“The maneki-neko gives you the chance to appreciate what you have, the people you meet,” Gotokuji’s deputy priest Tessai Kasukawa told AFP.

“The feeling of appreciation will bring you good luck.”

And the feline figurines have certainly brought luck to the temple, which says it is seeing a growing number of visitors.

“Now with the Tokyo Olympics coming up (in 2020), we receive many international visitors. They spread the word about the temple, making this place globally famous,” Kasukawa said.


SAN FRANCISCO, July 27, 2018 (News Wires) - Revenue forecasts from Facebook Inc that alarmed investors, fuelling the worst day ever for its shares, add to the pressure on its Instagram unit to win over more of the ad buyers that have long found success on the company’s flagship app.

Instagram and Facebook users see about the same number of ads, but Instagram ad prices are half of what Facebook charges because of the limited number of advertisers vying for spots on Instagram, four ad buyers said.

Investors have been counting on revenue from Instagram to overcome stalling usage of Facebook’s core app. But the gap it has to fill has widened sooner than expected.

The social media company suffered the biggest one-day wipeout in US stock market history, losing more than $120 billion in market capitalisation as shares fell 19 per cent a day after executives forecast years of lower profit margins due to regulatory pressure over privacy.

Instagram users are not accustomed to clicking on links in posts, which makes the service less effective at generating online purchases than Facebook, said Erik Huberman, founder of the ad buying agency Hawke Media.

Data about viewership of ads is lacking in comparison to Facebook, he added.

“There are fundamental issues with the platform... which means any type of modern marketer would be hesitant to increase spend on Instagram,” Huberman said.

Some advertisers fond of Facebook are seeing subpar results on Instagram, according to advertising buyers. Others have been stymied by the higher bar for eye-catching content on Instagram and a general unease among advertisers about a newer service, the ad buyers said.

“A lot of businesses don’t put ads on Instagram because the reality is they don’t have the content to play on Instagram,” said David Herrmann, advertising director at Social Outlier, which spends nearly $15 million each quarter on Facebook ads on behalf of clients. “A local flooring business is not going to appeal on Instagram, like on Facebook.”

Instagram is its parent company’s fastest-growing slice of revenue, but it touts 4 million fewer monthly advertisers globally. As Instagram has shown more ads, the average price per ad across Facebook’s entire family of apps has declined in two straight quarters after a year of upswing. A new privacy law in Europe also has affected prices.

The latest results prompted Stifel, Nicolaus & Co analyst Scott Devitt to lower an Instagram revenue estimate for 2019 to $13 billion from $l4.64 billion, with lowered expectations for prices and views.


SAN FRANCISCO, July 8, 2018 (News Wires) - Instagram is rolling out a feature that will notify users when they’ve seen all the latest posts from the past two days - in other words, when they’re “caught up.”

Over a billion iOS and Android users can rest assured that there are no new posts mixed in with already-seen photos or videos from the past 48 hours when they cross the point of “You’re All Caught Up.”

In a blog post announcing the feature, Instagram says “With this message, you’ll have a better understanding of your Feed.”

For those concerned about missing something from those they follow, it could ease up on repeated checking. The move follows initiatives by many of the big tech companies, such as Apple, Google and Microsoft to pay more attention to digital health by introducing ‘Do Not Disturb’ modes of varying kinds and offering new ways to configure notifications, silence apps and filter non-important messages.

Meanwhile other Facebook-owned app WhatsApp has recently added a new setting that will give admins of group chats the chance to silence other participants.


SAN FRANCISCO, June 29, 2018 (News Wires) - In a bid to add another billion users from emerging markets including India, Facebook-owned Instagram has quietly released a lighter version of its app called Instagram Lite for Android on Google Play.

Although Facebook was yet to release an official statement, the appearance of Instagram Lite is likely a pilot run in select countries to begin with.

There are millions of smartphone users in India who still have old variants with slow 2G Internet connectivity and Instagram Lite app can help them get in touch with friends and family.

"The Instagram Lite app is small, allowing you to save space on your phone and download it quickly," read the app's description on Google Play.

"At just 573 kilobytes, Instagram Lite is 1/55th the size of Instagram's 32MB main app. It lets you filter and post photos to the feed or Stories, watch Stories and browse the Explore page, but currently lacks the options to share videos or Direct message friends," TechCrunch reported late Thursday.

With this new version of the photo messaging app, users using older phones with less storage space or slower Internet connections would have access to Instagram without having to delete photos, apps or wait longer and pay more to download it.

The app would run on Android versions 5.0 and up.

"We are testing a new version of Instagram for Android that takes up less space on your device, uses less data and starts faster," an Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch earlier.

With over a billion users, Instagram is a very popular app from the Facebook family. Facebook launched Facebook Lite in 2015, which had 200 million users by the end of last year. Facebook's Messenger Lite came in April this year.

Instagram this month announced it would allow users to upload videos up to one hour in length, up from the previous one-minute limit.


SAN FRANCISCO, June 29, 2018 (News Wires) - Facebook’s Instagram service is loosening its restraints on video in an attempt to lure younger viewers away from video platform YouTube when they’re looking for something to watch on their smartphones.

The expansion announced recently, dubbed IGTV, will increase Instagram’s video time limit from one minute to 10 minutes for most users. Accounts with large audiences will be able to go as long as an hour.

Video will be available through Instagram or a new app called IGTV. The video will eventually give Facebook more opportunities to sell advertising.

It’s the latest instance in which Instagram has ripped a page from a rival’s playbook in an effort to preserve its status as a cool place for young people to share and view content. In this case, Instagram is mimicking Google’s YouTube. Before, Facebook and Instagram have copied Snapchat – another magnet for teens and young adults.

Instagram, now nearly 8 years old, is moving further from its roots as a photo-sharing service as it dives headlong into longer-form video.




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