WhatsApp activity records are allowing stalkers to track users online said cybersecurity firm Traced, in a new report.
When a person opens Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp, their status changes to show they are "online".
Because online statuses are public, they are being scraped by websites that log WhatsApp users' activity records, says cybersecurity firm Traced which listed four different sites and apps offering this service.
Some of these WhatsApp status trackers let users cross reference a person's online status with the times another person was online to understand if it's likely the two have been messaging each other.
One service advertises itself with the tagline: "Track your friends, love, wife or kids!"
A Reddit user said they had used a WhatsApp status tracker to track their partner's activity while they were in a long-distance relationship.
"I downloaded this tracker app that gave me super detailed info about his whatsapp activity. All it does is alert me when he's online and offline and keeps a log of it for every day," they said.
"For the first couple days that I downloaded it, he was only on whatsapp speak to me,' they added.
Then the couple got into a fight and the WhatsApp tracker showed an increase of activity on the app as the Reddit user claimed their ex-partner was messaging someone new.
"Guys, whoever he was loveboming was getting it full force. He was on constantly throughout the day, sometimes in the chat window for hours at a time and then other times checking in every 20 seconds to (I imagine) see if he had received a response from this mystery woman."
Eva Galperin, Director of Cybersecurity, EFF told Traced that WhatsApp should give users the power to turn off their online status.
“This is just sloppy work on the part of WhatsApp and a typical example of what happens when companies don’t think about abusive relationships when they’re making their design decisions," she said.
A WhatsApp spokesperson said this type of scraping is a violation of the company's terms of service and WhatsApp regularly works with app stores to seek the removal of apps.
"We have banned the WhatsApp accounts associated with this website, requested Google remove their app from the Play Store, and sent the person behind it a cease and desist order," they said.
“We listen closely to feedback from users and we’ve heard that knowing when someone in their contacts is “online” provides a sense of closeness when friends and family are chatting with one another."
Have a good weekend!
That concludes our live blog for today and for this week. We'll hope to see you back here on Monday, and hope you have a lovely weekend.
Apple to artists: we pay double
Apple Music is trying to sweeten the deal for musicians by paying double what Spotify pays out per stream, according to documents seen by the Wall Street Journal.
The smartphone giant, which is leaning ever harder on Music and other subscription services as handset sales slow down across the world, reportedly told artists that it pays one cent for every time someone listens to one of their songs.
Apple's letter said: “As the discussion about streaming royalties continues, we believe it is important to share our value. We believe in paying every creator the same rate, that a play has a value, and that creators should never have to pay for featuring [their work].”
In most cases that money doesn't actually go to the artists, instead flowing to rights holders such as record labels, which then pay the artists.
Facebook's Oversight Board delays Trump decision
Facebook's oversight board has delayed a decision on the banning of former US President Donald Trump, nearly four months after he left office, writes Laurence Dodds.
The social media giant asked the board to examine Mr Trump's ban in January, starting a 90-day clock that was due to expire on April 21.
But on Friday the board said it would push its ruling back into "the coming weeks" because of the overwhelming volume of outside submissions the case has provoked.
A spokesman said: "We extended the public comments deadline for this case, receiving 9,000-plus responses. The Board’s commitment to carefully reviewing all comments has extended the case timeline, in line with the board’s bylaws.”
The board's rules allow it to exceed the 90-day limit "exceptional circumstances".
US campaign groups have been lobbying the board intensely to uphold or overturn Mr Trump's ban, which Facebook has promised to keep in place unless the board orders otherwise.
The body was set up last year as an independent court of appeal for Facebook's 2.8bn users, with funding for three years ahead and a panel of 19 academics, former judges and human rights activists.
Earlier this week, Facebook widened the board's powers to include cases where the company's moderators elected to take no action on a controversial piece of content.
WhatsApp's online status feature is aiding cyberstalkers, says report
Records of when WhatsApp users are online are being scraped by cyberstalker websites offering to find out if a person's partner is cheating on them.
When a person opens the messaging app WhatsApp, their status changes to show they are "online".
But because these online statuses are public, they are being scraped by websites that log WhatsApp users' activity records, says the cybersecurity company Traced which discovered four websites and apps offering these services in a new report.
WhatsApp said this type of scraping violated the company's terms of service, it had banned the WhatsApp accounts associated with one of the websites and requested Google remove their app from the Play Store.
A person behind one of the sites had also been sent a cease and desist order, WhatsApp said.
However the company said users like the online status feature. “We listen closely to feedback from users and we’ve heard that knowing when someone in their contacts is “online” provides a sense of closeness when friends and family are chatting with one another," a spokesperson said.
Eva Galperin, director of Cybersecurity at the EFF, said on Twitter: "WhatsApp's statement sure makes it sound like their plan is to play whack-a-mole with the status trackers instead of fixing the underlying problem."
Google 'misled' Australia on location data collection, says watchdog
Google "misled" users about the personal location data collected through Android devices, said a court in Australia, in what the regulator called "a world-first enforcement action".
The Federal Court found that during the set up process of a new Android device, Google made it seem as if the ‘Location History’ setting was the only Google Account setting that allowed Google to collect identifiable location data.
However, another Account setting called ‘Web & App Activity’ also enabled Google to collect this data when it was turned on, and that setting was turned on by default.
The Australia competition and consumer commission (ACCC) said between January 2017 and December 2018 Google did not inform users about how this setting applied to location data.
Potential fines would be determined at a later date, the watchdog said in a statement.
“In addition to penalties, we are seeking an order for Google to publish a notice to Australian consumers to better explain Google’s location data settings in the future. This will ensure that consumers can make informed choices about whether certain Google settings that personal collect location data should be enabled,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
Google did not immediately respond to The Telegraph's request for comment,
Irish group urges Facebook users to join campaign to sue platform
Facebook users who saw their personal data leaked on a hacker forum this month have been urged to join a mass legal action against the tech giant.
A rights group based in Ireland, which is the site of Facebook's European headquarters, is attempting to rally EU citizens who were affected by the privacy breach to sign up to its campaign to sue Facebook for damages.
Non-profit group, Digital Rights Ireland, which wants to take a mass-action to the Irish courts, says the breach might mean that users involved could receive more nuisance calls.
"Previously this file was for sale on the dark web, trading quietly but now it's available for free.... so lots of people are going to have this file," said DRI's Antoin O Lachtnain on RTE Radio.
DRI is asking people who want to join the case to make a financial contribution to the case of around £50 - £100.
The prospect of having to pay out to a large group of people "gives a company like Facebook the incentive not to do this again", O Lachtnain added.
Personal data, including phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth and employers names, belonging to around 500 million people from 106 countries was published on a hacking forum earlier in April, although the data had been taken from Facebook years earlier.
The feature that was used to scrape the data was changed in 2019 after Facebook was made aware it was being abused.
The Irish Data Protection Commission said it would launch an investigation into the leak "to determine whether Facebook Ireland has complied with its obligations, as data controller".
Firms found in breach of Europe's data protection law, the GDPR, face fines of up to 4pc of their annual global turnover.
However Facebook has previously denied wrong doing because the data was not stolen from a hacker breaking into Facebook systems. Instead, it was taken from information that users made publicly visible themselves.
“We understand people's concerns, which is why we continue to strengthen our systems to make scraping from Facebook without our permission more difficult and go after the people behind it," a Facebook spokesperson said.
"As LinkedIn and Clubhouse have shown, no company can completely eliminate scraping or prevent data sets like these from appearing. That's why we devote substantial resources to combat it and will continue to build out our capabilities to help stay ahead of this challenge."
MusicMagpie set for £208m London float
MusicMagpie, the online reseller of second-hand hardware, has confirmed plans to float on the stock market in a deal valuing the business at around £208m.
The Stockport-based business which specialises in selling second hand smart phones and games consoles posted revenues of £153.4m for the year to November, with earnings of £13.9m. It will list on the London Stock Exchange's junior AIM index.
The 14-year-old company said it expects to raise £15m through the sale of new shares which is will use to expand its smartphone rental business. Existing shareholders are expected to secure £95 million through a share sale.
Turkey bans cryptocurrency payments, causing Bitcoin to dip
Bitcoin was down 3pc on Friday, after Turkey's central bank banned the use of cryptocurrencies and crypto assets to buy goods and services.
The central bank said in legislation published on Friday that digital assets could not be used as payment directly or indirectly, citing the possibility of "irreparable" damage and significant transaction risks.
Turkey's crypto market has surged in recent months as investors looked for ways to hedge against lira depreciation and inflation.
Robinhood facing ban in Massachusetts
Robinhood has branded a US regulator's attempt to revoke the trading app's brokerage license as "elitist".
In an administrative complaint, William Galvin, the head of the state’s securities division, said Robinhood has “continued a pattern of aggressively inducing and enticing trading among its customers -- including Massachusetts customers with little or no investment experience.”
He said the app used game-like strategies to lure young, inexperienced customers, using the example of how the app shows a shower of confetti for each trade a user makes.
On its website, Robinhood hit back: "The complaint reflects the old way of thinking: That new, younger, and more diverse investors don’t have a place in the markets."
The statement added: "By trying to block Robinhood, the division is attempting to bring its residents back in time and reinstate the financial barriers that Robinhood was founded to break down."
Grab considers second Singapore-based listing
South-east Asian super-app Grab is considering a secondary listing in its home market of Singapore once it has completed a Nasdaq listing via a £29bn spac merger, according to Reuters.
News of the Singapore listing arrives after Grab announced earlier this week it would merge with a special purpose acquisition company (Spac) belonging to investor Brad Gerstner’s Altimeter Capital Management in what will become the largest deal to date between a private business and a blank cheque merger company.
But also listing on the Singapore Exchange would allow Grab to establish an investor base within the region where the business operates.
The Softbank-backed company is a household name in southeast Asia, where it has around 187 million users spread across 350 cities. The company offers an app that offers services ranging from food delivery and hotel bookings to online banking, mobile payments and insurance.
Project Veritas founder raises liberal bias row and vows to sue Twitter
Right-wing US blogger James O’Keefe, has pledged to sue Twitter after the platform permanently banned him for violating its “platform manipulation and spam policy".
The ban relates specifically to rules that users are not allowed to mislead others using fake accounts or “artificially amplify or disrupt conversations”, a Twitter spokesperson told the New York Times.
“This is false, this is defamatory, and they will pay,” O’Keefe said on his website.
O’Keefe is well-known for running Project Veritas, a website publishing gotcha-style videos that film subjects undercover and tend to allege corruption among Democrats or organisations considered to be liberal.
His critics say his videos are heavily edited and misleading. But he has found a large following online and his Twitter account had 900,000 followers before it was shut down.
Among his supporters, there are suspicions about the timing of his account's removal.
This week, he published videos that claimed to show a CNN employee admitting to political bias at the TV network news organisation has a political bias.
Technical director Charles Chester was secretly filmed on what he thought was a Tinder date with a nurse, saying the TV network's focus during the election campaign was "to get Trump out of office".
According to Chester's now-deleted LinkedIn page, he does not make editorial decisions and instead operates video editing equipment for the cable network.
Ocado to invest £10 million in driverless vehicle start-up Oxbotica.
Ocado Group announced on Friday it is taking a £10m stake in an Oxford-based autonomous vehicle software start up, with plans to use the technology both in its warehouse operations and to reduce costs of "last-mile delivery".
The ecommerce company expects to use Oxbotica's software itself as well as reselling the technology to other companies to help them run their own cost-effective online ordering-and-delivery operations.
Ocado and Oxbotica began working together in 2015, trialling autonomous deliveries in south London.
The cost of "last mile delivery", when a company delivers groceries or takeaway to a person's door, has long been considered a problem for businesses working in this area.
Ocado said the cost of last mile delivery is approximately 10pc of sales and labour represents approximately 50pc of these costs.
In a stock market statement, the company said it expects to see driverless vehicles operating in its warehouses before they carry out deliveries fully autonomous deliveries to customers' homes "for both regulatory and complexity reasons".
As well as reducing costs, Ocado says autonomous vehicles create opportunities to better respond to peak delivery demands and accelerate the shift to electric vehicles, reducing the company's environmental impact.
The cash injection comes as part of a £34 million Series B funding round, led by BP Ventures, in the Oxford-based firm.
Domino's Pizza has also started making deliveries in Houston, Texas using a robot this week and UK company Starship Technologies is currently using robots to make grocery deliveries in Norwich and Milton Keynes.
Investor outrage at Robinhood crypto issues, amid Dogecoin rally
Trading app Robinhood was accused by users of restricting cryptocurrency trading on Thursday, as the price of meme-inspired token almost doubled.
"No, we didn't place restrictions on $DOGE trading. This is false information," the company, which was at the centre of Gamestop trading drama, said on Twitter, instead saying it was "experiencing issues with crypto trading".
By Friday morning UK time, the company's status page said crypto trading was again operational.
Meme-inspired Dogecoin was up 86pc in the past 24 hours, to $0.25, benefitting from a surge of interest in cryptocurrencies after the blockbuster direct listing of crypto exchange Coinbase and spurred on by a Twitter endorsement from Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
"Doge Barking at the Moon," he said on Thursday.
In January, Robinhood did restrict trading in cryptocurrencies in response to a spike in bitcoin and doge prices.
Users reported the trading app had halted instant deposits for crypto purchases so they could only buy the currencies with funds already in their accounts.
At the time Robinhood said it took the decision "due to extraordinary market conditions".
Also on Thursday, Massachusetts regulators were seeking to revoke Robinhood's brokerage license, accusing it of "luring" young and inexperienced investors.
Five things to start your day
The 57-year-old founder, who will step down to become executive chairman after June, said its staff are not subject to "unreasonable performance goals" and get proper breaks to rest and use the toilet.
Will Shu says he will not “finger point” over the listing flop and pushes back on claims from rival Just Eat over market share.
The letter warns Mark Zuckerberg that opening Instagram to younger users will put them at risk of mental illness, exploitation and abuse.
It's harder to fake a video than it is a selfie, meaning daters will quickly learn who is really behind their smartphone.
The problem is no one knows exactly how