Twitter is purging accounts that were trying to evade prior suspensions

Twitter announced this afternoon it will begin booting accounts off its service from those who have tried to evade their account suspension. The company says that the accounts in question are users who have been previously suspended on Twitter for their abusive behavior, or for trying to evade a prior suspension. These bad actors have […]

Twitter announced this afternoon it will begin booting accounts off its service from those who have tried to evade their account suspension. The company says that the accounts in question are users who have been previously suspended on Twitter for their abusive behavior, or for trying to evade a prior suspension. These bad actors have been able to work around Twitter’s attempt to remove them by setting up another account, it seems.

The company says the new wave of suspensions will hit this week and will continue in the weeks ahead, as it’s able to identify others who are “attempting to Tweet following an account suspension.” 

Twitter’s announcement on the matter – which came in the form of a tweet – was light on details. We asked the company for more information. It’s unclear, for example, how Twitter was able to identify the same persons had returned to Twitter, how many users will be affected by this new ban, or what impact this will have on Twitter’s currently stagnant user numbers.

Twitter has not responded to our questions.

The company has been more recently focused on aggressively suspending accounts, as part of the effort to stem the flow of disinformation, bots, and abuse on its service. The Washington Post, for example, said last month that Twitter had suspended as many as 70 million accounts between the months of May and June, and was continuing in July at the same pace. The removal of these accounts didn’t affect the company’s user metrics, Twitter’s CFO later clarified.

Even though they weren’t a factor, Twitter’s user base is shrinking. The company actually lost a million monthly active users in Q2, with 335 million overall users and 68 million in the U.S. In part, Twitter may be challenged in growing its audience because it’s not been able to get a handle on the rampant abuse on its platform, and because it makes poor enforcement decisions with regard to its existing policies.

For instance, Twitter is under fire right now for the way it chooses who to suspend, as it’s one of the few remaining platforms that hasn’t taken action against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

The Outline even hilariously (???) suggested today that we all abandon Twitter and return to Tumblr. (Disclosure: Oath owns Tumblr and TC. I don’t support The Outline’s plan. Twitter should just fix itself, even if that requires new leadership.)

In any event, today’s news isn’t about a change in how Twitter will implement its rules, but rather in how it will enforce the bans it’s already chosen to enact.

In many cases, banned users would simply create a new account using a new email address and then continue to tweet. Twitter’s means of identifying returning users has been fairly simplistic in the past. To make sure banned users didn’t come back, it used information like the email, phone and IP address to identify them.

For it to now be going after a whole new lot of banned accounts who have been attempting to avoid their suspensions, Twitter may be using the recently acquired technology from anti-abuse firm Smyte. At the time of the deal, Twitter had praised Smyte’s proactive anti-abuse systems, and said it would soon put them to work.

This system may pick up false positives, of course – and that could be why Twitter noted that some accounts could be banned in error in the weeks ahead.

More to come…

Twitter Lite Is Now Available in 45+ Countries

With more people in developing countries buying smartphones, tech companies need to cater to this influx of potential new users. The answer is lightweight apps which offer much the same functionality as the full-featured versions, just with less clutter. In April 2017, Twitter launched Twitter Lite, which, as its name suggests, is a lightweight version of its mobile app. Exclusively available on Android, Twitter Lite is designed to help people with older phones, limited storage, and/or spotty connections get on Twitter. Twitter Lite Goes Global Twitter Lite was tested in the Philippines before being made available elsewhere. And now, Twitter…

Read the full article: Twitter Lite Is Now Available in 45+ Countries

With more people in developing countries buying smartphones, tech companies need to cater to this influx of potential new users. The answer is lightweight apps which offer much the same functionality as the full-featured versions, just with less clutter.

In April 2017, Twitter launched Twitter Lite, which, as its name suggests, is a lightweight version of its mobile app. Exclusively available on Android, Twitter Lite is designed to help people with older phones, limited storage, and/or spotty connections get on Twitter.

Twitter Lite Goes Global

Twitter Lite was tested in the Philippines before being made available elsewhere. And now, Twitter has made Twitter Lite available in 21 additional countries, including Argentina, India, and Turkey. This brings the total up to 46, with more to be added in the future.

Twitter Lite offers various advantages over its bigger brother. It’s only a 3MB install, and is designed to work on 2G and 3G networks, even if your connection is spotty. What’s more, the Data Saver lets you “control which images and videos load on your phone”.

Beyond that it’s pretty much business as usual, with Twitter Lite offering push notifications, Bookmarks for saving important tweets for later, threaded tweets making tweetstorms easier to read, and a Night Mode which is easier on the eyes.

Twitter Lite is now available to download from Google Play in Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Serbia, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

The Best Lightweight Apps

Twitter Lite is just one of a number of lightweight apps we recommend. Especially if you have an older smartphone or a restrictive data plan. The best Android apps for those with slow internet speeds include Facebook Lite, YouTube Go, and Datally from Google.

Image Credit: Thethreesisters/Flickr

Read the full article: Twitter Lite Is Now Available in 45+ Countries

Twitter Lite expands to 21 more countries, adds push notifications

Twitter announced today its Twitter Lite app is expanding to 21 more countries, which makes the data-saving app available to more than 45 countries in total. The app was introduced last year with the goal of bringing in more users from emerging markets to Twitter. Similar to other data-saving apps, like Facebook Lite or YouTube […]

Twitter announced today its Twitter Lite app is expanding to 21 more countries, which makes the data-saving app available to more than 45 countries in total. The app was introduced last year with the goal of bringing in more users from emerging markets to Twitter. Similar to other data-saving apps, like Facebook Lite or YouTube Go, Twitter Lite is designed to load faster on slower network connections, like 2G and 3G, and also has a smaller footprint, so it takes up less space on the phone.

The app was first launched as a test in the Philippines in September, before rolling out to a couple dozen more countries in November.

Twitter’s hope is that by addressing the needs of those low-bandwith users in international markets, the company could help increase its overall user base, which has remained fairly stagnant.

Today, the company is making the app available to 21 countries, including:  Argentina, Belarus, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Romania, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

These join the other markets where Twitter Lite has been available, such as: Algeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Israel, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Malaysia, Nigeria, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Serbia, El Salvador, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, Tanzania and Venezuela, in addition to the Philippines.

The app offers a variety of features for those on slower or unreliable networks. For example, Lite users can turn on a Data saver mode that allows them to control which images or video load when browsing the network. Once enabled, you can load this content by tapping “Load Image” or “Load video,” as needed.

The app is also under 3MB in size, so it will load more quickly on slower networks.

And like Twitter, the app includes features like Bookmarks, a darker “Night mode” theme, threads, and starting today, push notifications.

The company in November claimed Twitter Lite led to a greater than 50% increase in tweets, and noted that 80% of its then 330 million monthly users were outside the U.S. That percentage remains roughly the same – as of July, Twitter had a total of 335 million users, with 68 million of those in the U.S.

However, the company isn’t growing that quickly outside the U.S., despite Twitter Lite. Also as of July 2018, we noted the company’s international audience had only grown by a modest 3.5% over the past year.

An expansion of the Twitter Lite app will certainly open up Twitter to more people, but it’s not clear there’s much demand.

The app is available as a free download on Google Play.

Openbook is the latest dream of a digital life beyond Facebook

As tech’s social giants wrestle with antisocial demons that appear to be both an emergent property of their platform power, and a consequence of specific leadership and values failures (evident as they publicly fail to enforce even the standards they claim to have), there are still people dreaming of a better way. Of social networking beyond outrage-fuelled […]

As tech’s social giants wrestle with antisocial demons that appear to be both an emergent property of their platform power, and a consequence of specific leadership and values failures (evident as they publicly fail to enforce even the standards they claim to have), there are still people dreaming of a better way. Of social networking beyond outrage-fuelled adtech giants like Facebook and Twitter.

There have been many such attempts to build a ‘better’ social network of course. Most have ended in the deadpool. A few are still around with varying degrees of success/usage (Snapchat, Ello and Mastodon are three that spring to mine). None has usurped Zuckerberg’s throne of course.

This is principally because Facebook acquired Instagram and WhatsApp. It has also bought and closed down smaller potential future rivals (tbh). So by hogging network power, and the resources that flow from that, Facebook the company continues to dominate the social space. But that doesn’t stop people imagining something better — a platform that could win friends and influence the mainstream by being better ethically and in terms of functionality.

And so meet the latest dreamer with a double-sided social mission: Openbook.

The idea (currently it’s just that; a small self-funded team; a manifesto; a prototype; a nearly spent Kickstarter campaign; and, well, a lot of hopeful ambition) is to build an open source platform that rethinks social networking to make it friendly and customizable, rather than sticky and creepy.

Their vision to protect privacy as a for-profit platform involves a business model that’s based on honest fees — and an on-platform digital currency — rather than ever watchful ads and trackers.

There’s nothing exactly new in any of their core ideas. But in the face of massive and flagrant data misuse by platform giants these are ideas that seem to sound increasingly like sense. So the element of timing is perhaps the most notable thing here — with Facebook facing greater scrutiny than ever before, and even taking some hits to user growth and to its perceived valuation as a result of ongoing failures of leadership and a management philosophy that’s been attacked by at least one of its outgoing senior execs as manipulative and ethically out of touch.

The Openbook vision of a better way belongs to Joel Hernández who has been dreaming for a couple of years, brainstorming ideas on the side of other projects, and gathering similarly minded people around him to collectively come up with an alternative social network manifesto — whose primary pledge is a commitment to be honest.

“And then the data scandals started happening and every time they would, they would give me hope. Hope that existing social networks were not a given and immutable thing, that they could be changed, improved, replaced,” he tells TechCrunch.

Rather ironically Hernández says it was overhearing the lunchtime conversation of a group of people sitting near him — complaining about a laundry list of social networking ills; “creepy ads, being spammed with messages and notifications all the time, constantly seeing the same kind of content in their newsfeed” — that gave him the final push to pick up the paper manifesto and have a go at actually building (or, well, trying to fund building… ) an alternative platform. 

At the time of writing Openbook’s Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign has a handful of days to go and is only around a third of the way to reaching its (modest) target of $115k, with just over 1,000 backers chipping in. So the funding challenge is looking tough.

The team behind Openbook includes crypto(graphy) royalty, Phil Zimmermann — aka the father of PGP — who is on board as an advisor initially but billed as its “chief cryptographer”, as that’s what he’d be building for the platform if/when the time came. 

Hernández worked with Zimmermann at the Dutch telecom KPN building security and privacy tools for internal usage — so called him up and invited him for a coffee to get his thoughts on the idea.

“As soon as I opened the website with the name Openbook, his face lit up like I had never seen before,” says Hernández. “You see, he wanted to use Facebook. He lives far away from his family and facebook was the way to stay in the loop with his family. But using it would also mean giving away his privacy and therefore accepting defeat on his life-long fight for it, so he never did. He was thrilled at the possibility of an actual alternative.”

On the Kickstarter page there’s a video of Zimmermann explaining the ills of the current landscape of for-profit social platforms, as he views it. “If you go back a century, Coca Cola had cocaine in it and we were giving it to children,” he says here. “It’s crazy what we were doing a century ago. I think there will come a time, some years in the future, when we’re going to look back on social networks today, and what we were doing to ourselves, the harm we were doing to ourselves with social networks.”

“We need an alternative to the social network work revenue model that we have today,” he adds. “The problem with having these deep machine learning neural nets that are monitoring our behaviour and pulling us into deeper and deeper engagement is they already seem to know that nothing drives engagement as much as outrage.

“And this outrage deepens the political divides in our culture, it creates attack vectors against democratic institutions, it undermines our elections, it makes people angry at each other and provides opportunities to divide us. And that’s in addition to the destruction of our privacy by revenue models that are all about exploiting our personal information. So we need some alternative to this.”

Hernández actually pinged TechCrunch’s tips line back in April — soon after the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal went global — saying “we’re building the first ever privacy and security first, open-source, social network”.

We’ve heard plenty of similar pitches before, of course. Yet Facebook has continued to harvest global eyeballs by the billions. And even now, after a string of massive data and ethics scandals, it’s all but impossible to imagine users leaving the site en masse. Such is the powerful lock-in of The Social Network effect.

Regulation could present a greater threat to Facebook, though others argue more rules will simply cement its current dominance.

Openbook’s challenger idea is to apply product innovation to try to unstick Zuckerberg. Aka “building functionality that could stand for itself”, as Hernández puts it.

“We openly recognise that privacy will never be enough to get any significant user share from existing social networks,” he says. “That’s why we want to create a more customisable, fun and overall social experience. We won’t follow the footsteps of existing social networks.”

Data portability is an important ingredient to even being able to dream this dream — getting people to switch from a dominant network is hard enough without having to ask them to leave all their stuff behind as well as their friends. Which means that “making the transition process as smooth as possible” is another project focus.

Hernández says they’re building data importers that can parse the archive users are able to request from their existing social networks — to “tell you what’s in there and allow you to select what you want to import into Openbook”.

These sorts of efforts are aided by updated regulations in Europe — which bolster portability requirements on controllers of personal data. “I wouldn’t say it made the project possible but… it provided us a with a unique opportunity no other initiative had before,” says Hernández of the EU’s GDPR.

“Whether it will play a significant role in the mass adoption of the network, we can’t tell for sure but it’s simply an opportunity too good to ignore.”

On the product front, he says they have lots of ideas — reeling off a list that includes the likes of “a topic-roulette for chats, embracing Internet challenges as another kind of content, widgets, profile avatars, AR chatrooms…” for starters.

“Some of these might sound silly but the idea is to break the status quo when it comes to the definition of what a social network can do,” he adds.

Asked why he believes other efforts to build ‘ethical’ alternatives to Facebook have failed he argues it’s usually because they’ve focused on technology rather than product.

“This is still the most predominant [reason for failure],” he suggests. “A project comes up offering a radical new way to do social networking behind the scenes. They focus all their efforts in building the brand new tech needed to do the very basic things a social network can already do. Next thing you know, years have passed. They’re still thousands of miles away from anything similar to the functionality of existing social networks and their core supporters have moved into yet another initiative making the same promises. And the cycle goes on.”

He also reckons disruptive efforts have fizzled out because they were too tightly focused on being just a solution to an existing platform problem and nothing more.

So, in other words, people were trying to build an ‘anti-Facebook’, rather than a distinctly interesting service in its own right. (The latter innovation, you could argue, is how Snap managed to carve out a space for itself in spite of Facebook sitting alongside it — even as Facebook has since sought to crush Snap’s creative market opportunity by cloning its products.)

“This one applies not only to social network initiatives but privacy-friendly products too,” argues Hernández. “The problem with that approach is that the problems they solve or claim to solve are most of the time not mainstream. Such as the lack of privacy.

“While these products might do okay with the people that understand the problems, at the end of the day that’s a very tiny percentage of the market. The solution these products often present to this issue is educating the population about the problems. This process takes too long. And in topics like privacy and security, it’s not easy to educate people. They are topics that require a knowledge level beyond the one required to use the technology and are hard to explain with examples without entering into the conspiracy theorist spectrum.”

So the Openbook team’s philosophy is to shake things up by getting people excited for alternative social networking features and opportunities, with merely the added benefit of not being hostile to privacy nor algorithmically chain-linked to stoking fires of human outrage.

The reliance on digital currency for the business model does present another challenge, though, as getting people to buy into this could be tricky. After all payments equal friction.

To begin with, Hernández says the digital currency component of the platform would be used to let users list secondhand items for sale. Down the line, the vision extends to being able to support a community of creators getting a sustainable income — thanks to the same baked in coin mechanism enabling other users to pay to access content or just appreciate it (via a tip).

So, the idea is, that creators on Openbook would be able to benefit from the social network effect via direct financial payments derived from the platform (instead of merely ad-based payments, such as are available to YouTube creators) — albeit, that’s assuming reaching the necessary critical usage mass. Which of course is the really, really tough bit.

“Lower cuts than any existing solution, great content creation tools, great administration and overview panels, fine-grained control over the view-ability of their content and more possibilities for making a stable and predictable income such as creating extra rewards for people that accept to donate for a fixed period of time such as five months instead of a month to month basis,” says Hernández, listing some of the ideas they have to stand out from existing creator platforms.

“Once we have such a platform and people start using tips for this purpose (which is not such a strange use of a digital token), we will start expanding on its capabilities,” he adds. (He’s also written the requisite Medium article discussing some other potential use cases for the digital currency portion of the plan.)

At this nascent prototype and still-not-actually-funded stage they haven’t made any firm technical decisions on this front either. And also don’t want to end up accidentally getting into bed with an unethical tech.

“Digital currency wise, we’re really concerned about the environmental impact and scalability of the blockchain,” he says — which could risk Openbook contradicting stated green aims in its manifesto and looking hypocritical, given its plan is to plough 30% of its revenues into ‘give-back’ projects, such as environmental and sustainability efforts and also education.

“We want a decentralised currency but we don’t want to rush into decisions without some in-depth research. Currently, we’re going through IOTA’s whitepapers,” he adds.

They do also believe in decentralizing the platform — or at least parts of it — though that would not be their first focus on account of the strategic decision to prioritize product. So they’re not going to win fans from the (other) crypto community. Though that’s hardly a big deal given their target user-base is far more mainstream.

“Initially it will be built on a centralised manner. This will allow us to focus in innovating in regards to the user experience and functionality product rather than coming up with a brand new behind the scenes technology,” he says. “In the future, we’re looking into decentralisation from very specific angles and for different things. Application wise, resiliency and data ownership.”

“A project we’re keeping an eye on and that shares some of our vision on this is Tim Berners Lee’s MIT Solid project. It’s all about decoupling applications from the data they use,” he adds.

So that’s the dream. And the dream sounds good and right. The problem is finding enough funding and wider support — call it ‘belief equity’ — in a market so denuded of competitive possibility as a result of monopolistic platform power that few can even dream an alternative digital reality is possible.

In early April, Hernández posted a link to a basic website with details of Openbook to a few online privacy and tech communities asking for feedback. The response was predictably discouraging. “Some 90% of the replies were a mix between critiques and plain discouraging responses such as “keep dreaming”, “it will never happen”, “don’t you have anything better to do”,” he says.

(Asked this April by US lawmakers whether he thinks he has a monopoly, Zuckerberg paused and then quipped: “It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me!”)

Still, Hernández stuck with it, working on a prototype and launching the Kickstarter. He’s got that far — and wants to build so much more — but getting enough people to believe that a better, fairer social network is even possible might be the biggest challenge of all. 

For now, though, Hernández doesn’t want to stop dreaming.

“We are committed to make Openbook happen,” he says. “Our back-up plan involves grants and impact investment capital. Nothing will be as good as getting our first version through Kickstarter though. Kickstarter funding translates to absolute freedom for innovation, no strings attached.”

You can check out the Openbook crowdfunding pitch here.

Facebook now requiring Pages with large US audiences to go through additional authorization

Facebook today announced it’s implementing a new measure to secure Facebook Pages with large U.S. followings in order to make it harder for people to administer a Page using a “fake or compromised account.” Beginning with those that have large U.S. followings, some Facebook Pages will now have to go through a “Page Publishing Authorization” […]

Facebook today announced it’s implementing a new measure to secure Facebook Pages with large U.S. followings in order to make it harder for people to administer a Page using a “fake or compromised account.” Beginning with those that have large U.S. followings, some Facebook Pages will now have to go through a “Page Publishing Authorization” process. This will require the Page managers to secure their accounts and verity their location.

Facebook says the process only takes a few minutes to complete. If a Page requires this authorization, the Page admins will receive a notice at the top of their News Feed directing them to begin the process.

If they choose not to submit to Authorization, they will no longer be able to post to their Pages, the company says. Enforcement will begin this month.

When the Page owners click through, a message informs them why this is being done and what steps they have to take. To secure their account, Facebook is asking the Page manager to secure their account using two-factor authentication. This makes it more difficult for their account to be hijacked by a third-party, and is a best practice that all Facebook users – not just Page admins – should follow.

Separately, the Facebook Page managers will need to verify their location. This will then be set as the Page’s primary country and display in the new Page Info tab Facebook introduced in June.

Here, Facebook will also show a list of countries of the people who manage the Page, and how many managers hail from each country in that list.

In addition, under Page History, Facebook will show when a Page has merged with another.

The company says this new policy will initially roll out to Pages with large U.S. audiences, and Instagram will soon do something similar. Specifically, Instagram will allow people to see more information about accounts with large audiences.

“Our goal is to prevent organizations and individuals from creating accounts that mislead people about who they are or what they’re doing,” reads a Facebook announcement about the new process. “These updates are part of our continued efforts to increase authenticity and transparency of Pages on our platform.”

The changes follow the recent news that Facebook had found evidence of possible Russia-linked influence campaigns on its network, whose goal was to influence the U.S. midterms. The company removed 8 Facebook Pages, 17 Facebook profiles, and 7 Instagram accounts as a result of its findings.

New policies to make Facebook Pages that reach a sizable number of Americans more secure, and their management more transparent, seems like a good first step on Facebook’s part. Though it’s still possible that those aiming to disrupt democracy and seed division will eventually find workarounds for these measures at some point in the future.

How to See How Much Time You’ve Spent on Facebook and Instagram

enjoy-social-media

Facebook recently announced a rather unexpected feature: the social network giant is making it easier to keep track of how much time you’re spending on Facebook and Instagram. To make use of this feature, you’ll need to use the mobile apps. And that’s where a significant caveat comes in: it only tracks how much time you spend on Facebook or Instagram on your phone. Any time spent on Facebook or Instagram in a normal browser won’t be counted. So, that kind of makes it less useful. However, if you’re the kind of person who mainly interacts with Facebook or Instagram…

Read the full article: How to See How Much Time You’ve Spent on Facebook and Instagram

enjoy-social-media

Facebook recently announced a rather unexpected feature: the social network giant is making it easier to keep track of how much time you’re spending on Facebook and Instagram.

To make use of this feature, you’ll need to use the mobile apps. And that’s where a significant caveat comes in: it only tracks how much time you spend on Facebook or Instagram on your phone. Any time spent on Facebook or Instagram in a normal browser won’t be counted.

So, that kind of makes it less useful. However, if you’re the kind of person who mainly interacts with Facebook or Instagram on your phone, then it can really help shed light on whether you might be addicted to your smartphone.

To see how much time you spend on Facebook, go to Settings > Your Time on Facebook.

To see how much time you spend on Instagram, go to Settings > Your Activity.

If you’re not seeing the feature yet, it’s because it’s still in the process of rolling out.

Once you do have access to the feature, you should be able to see a chart of how much time you spend on Facebook or Instagram every day, together with an average length of time per day for the week. You can also use the feature to set yourself a daily limit for how much time you spend on Facebook, and the app will notify you when you hit that limit.

If Facebook’s recent measures just aren’t enough, there are plenty of apps out there that can help you fight your smartphone addiction, and encourage you to spend less time staring at a screen.

Read the full article: How to See How Much Time You’ve Spent on Facebook and Instagram

What Do These Snapchat Emojis Mean? Emoji Meanings Explained

snapchat-emoji-mean

Snapchat is full of hidden quirks that you’ll only start to notice after you have been using the app for a while. One of these quirks is the presence of seemingly random emojis. You’ll find them next to your friends’ names, celebrities’ names, and even in your Snapchat Stories. But what do the Snapchat emojis mean? Snapchat Friend Emojis Snapchat uses 14 different emojis to categorize your friends. Each emoji denotes a particular aspect of the relationship between you and the other person; it’s like a secret Snapchat emoji code. 1. Yellow Heart Wondering what the yellow heart emoji means…

Read the full article: What Do These Snapchat Emojis Mean? Emoji Meanings Explained

Snapchat is full of hidden quirks that you’ll only start to notice after you have been using the app for a while.

One of these quirks is the presence of seemingly random emojis. You’ll find them next to your friends’ names, celebrities’ names, and even in your Snapchat Stories.

But what do the Snapchat emojis mean?

Snapchat Friend Emojis

Snapchat uses 14 different emojis to categorize your friends. Each emoji denotes a particular aspect of the relationship between you and the other person; it’s like a secret Snapchat emoji code.

1. Yellow Heart

Wondering what the yellow heart emoji means on Snapchat? It’s a simple one: you and the other person are best friends. Well, best friends on Snapchat. You have sent the most snaps to them, and they have sent the most snaps to you.

2. Red Heart

You’ll see the red heart emoji next to another Snapchatter’s name if you have been best friends on the service for the last two weeks consecutively (i.e., you have sent the most snaps to them, and they have sent the most to you).

3. Pink Hearts

Taking this to its logical conclusion, you will see an emoji of two pink hearts if you have been best friends for the last two months consecutively.

4. Gold Star

Snapchat also uses a gold star emoji. You will see it next to a friend’s name when someone has replayed one of their snaps in the last 24 hours.

5. Sunglasses Face

The sunglasses emoji on Snapchat means that you and the other person share a common good friend; you both send a lot of Snaps to a mutual connection. It does not mean that you share the same best friend.

6. Grimacing Face

The grimacing face emoji means that you do share the same best friend. You send the most snaps to the same person as they do. Awkward.

(Also, spare a thought for the poor person who receives all those snaps every day. Perhaps you should back off a bit!).

7. Smirking Face

The smirking face emoji is like the opposite of the grimacing face. It shows that you’re their best friend (they send you more snaps than anyone else), but they are not your best friend (you send more snaps to other people than you do to them). Also pretty awkward, we’re sure you’ll agree.

8. Smiling Face

Ah, this one is a bit more pleasant. A smiling face emoji on Snapchat means that you’re good friends with each other. Not best friends, but good friends. You both send each other lots of snaps on a regular basis.

9. Baby Face

Have you just become friends with a new person on Snapchat? Then you’ll see the baby face emoji alongside the person’s name. It will automatically disappear after a few weeks.

10. Fire

Snapchat uses three emojis that relate to your Snapstreak. If you see the fire emoji, it means you and the other person have snapped each other on three consecutive days. You both need to have sent a snap for the emoji to appear.

The number next to the emoji denotes how many days you have been on a Snapstreak.

Note: A Snapstreak only applies to snaps sent. Chatting with each other via text does not count towards your streak.

snapchat streak emoji

11. One Hundred

The red one hundred emoji will appear when you and your friend have completed a 100-day Snapstreak. It’s a great way to improve your Snapchat score.

Frankly, if you ever manage to get to 100 consecutive days of snapping, you deserve something more than an emoji. But alas, it’s not our decision.

12. Hourglass

The hourglass emoji will appear next to person’s name if your Snapstreak with them is about to end. It will pop up a few hours before your time runs out.

It’s pretty useful. After all, you wouldn’t want to jeopardize that glorious 100 emoji, would you?

13. Birthday Cake

It doesn’t take a genius to work this one out. You will see the birthday cake emoji alongside a friend’s name when it’s their birthday. Why not send them a snap to celebrate.

Note: This emoji only pops up if the person has added their birthday to Snapchat.

14. Zodiac Signs

If the person has added their birthday, the corresponding zodiac sign emoji will appear alongside their name. The zodiac signs are purple with a white emblem.

Verified Accounts

snapchat emoji celebrities

Some verified accounts have their own emoji. When the account posts a story, you will see the emoji alongside the account name so you know it’s official.

The list of verified Snapchat accounts is in a constant state of flux, but some of the most popular verified story emojis include:

  • Bicep: Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Blond Man: Diplo
  • Cactus: Jared Leto
  • Cake: Steve Aoki
  • Cherry: Demi Lovato
  • Crown: Kylie Jenner
  • DVD: David Guetta
  • Purple Heart Decoration: Selena Gomez
  • Praying Hands: Justin Bieber
  • Checkered Flag: Lewis Hamilton
  • Up Arrow: One Direction
  • USA Flag: Hilary Clinton

Relationship Emojis on Snapchat

Snapchatters have started using an emoji code to display their relationship status on their profile and in their stories. Much like the early days of hashtags on Twitter, the relationship emojis are not supported by Snapchat itself. Yet.

Either way, it’s important to know what the relationship emojis denote. You will see them a lot.

1. Blue Circle

The person is single. Remember, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are looking. You should use the same etiquette as you would use when looking for a date on Facebook.

2. Pineapple

The Snapchat equivalent of Facebook’s “It’s Complicated” status.

3. Red Circle

The person is open to propositions, but it not ready to commit to a long-term relationship.

4. Cherry

You’ll see the cherry emoji next to people who are in a relationship and happy.

5. Apple

The apple emoji on Snapchat means that the user is engaged and will soon be married.

6. Banana

The person is married.

7. Avocado

An avocado means the person thinks they are the “better half” in their relationship. You can take that to mean what you will.

snapchat fruit

8. Strawberry

The person is looking for the right person to spend their life with, but cannot find them. They have our sympathy.

9. Lemon

A lemon signifies a person who is in a relationship but who is unhappy and wants to be single.

10. Chestnut

The chestnut emoji implies that the person wants to get married to their long-term partner but is not yet engaged.

Don’t Forget About Snapchat Stickers and Filters

You should not confuse the emoji we’ve explained in this article with Snapchat’s filters and stickers.

You can add stickers to a story to convey more themes and emotions. There are even creator-made stickers that you can add in packs.

Snapchat also supplies users with hundreds of filters. You can use them in your stories to inject some additional personality. The list of filters, lenses, and geo-filters changes regularly (and you can even unlock hidden Snapchat filters). However, we’ve explained some of the most common ones in our complete list of Snapchat filters.

Read the full article: What Do These Snapchat Emojis Mean? Emoji Meanings Explained

How to Move Conversations Between Inboxes on Facebook Messenger

facebook-messenger

Your Facebook Messenger account has two inboxes: a main inbox and a separate inbox called Filtered Messages. Messages from friends arrive in your main inbox, and you receive notifications for them. Messages from non-friends who want to contact you are sent to your Filtered Messages inbox, and you won’t get any notifications. Non-friends also can’t see whether you’re active on Messenger or whether you’ve received their message. If you reply to a message in your Filtered Messages inbox, it automatically moves to your main inbox. But what about moving messages the other way? How do you transfer conversations from your main inbox…

Read the full article: How to Move Conversations Between Inboxes on Facebook Messenger

facebook-messenger

Your Facebook Messenger account has two inboxes: a main inbox and a separate inbox called Filtered Messages.

Messages from friends arrive in your main inbox, and you receive notifications for them. Messages from non-friends who want to contact you are sent to your Filtered Messages inbox, and you won’t get any notifications. Non-friends also can’t see whether you’re active on Messenger or whether you’ve received their message.

If you reply to a message in your Filtered Messages inbox, it automatically moves to your main inbox. But what about moving messages the other way? How do you transfer conversations from your main inbox into Filtered Messages?

Moving Facebook Conversations Between Inboxes

To move a message from your main inbox to the filtered inbox on the web app, follow the instructions below:

  1. Open Facebook and click on the Messenger icon in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. In the panel on the left-hand side, click on the message you want to move.
  3. In the panel on the right-hand side, click the gear icon.
  4. Click on Ignore Messages in the dropdown menu.
  5. Accept the on-screen confirmation, and the message will move.

If you want to move the message back into your primary inbox, find the message in your Filtered Messages inbox and click on the Reply button. You don’t need to write a message, the act of clicking Reply is sufficient.

To move a message on the mobile app, follow these instructions instead:

  1. Open the Facebook Messenger app.
  2. Tap on the conversation you want to move.
  3. Tap on the person’s name.
  4. Select Ignore Messages.
  5. Accept the on-screen confirmation message.

Check out our list of hidden Facebook Messenger tricks if you’d like to learn about more Facebook Messenger features.

Read the full article: How to Move Conversations Between Inboxes on Facebook Messenger

AI training and social network content moderation services bring TaskUs a $250 million windfall

TaskUs, the business process outsourcing service that moderates content, annotates information and handles back office customer support for some of the world’s largest tech companies, has raised $250 million in an investment from funds managed by the New York-based private equity giant, Blackstone Group. It’s been ten years since TaskUs was founded with a $20,000 investment […]

TaskUs, the business process outsourcing service that moderates content, annotates information and handles back office customer support for some of the world’s largest tech companies, has raised $250 million in an investment from funds managed by the New York-based private equity giant, Blackstone Group.

It’s been ten years since TaskUs was founded with a $20,000 investment from its two co-founders, and the new deal, which values the decade-old company at $500 million before the money even comes in, is proof of how much has changed for the service in the years since it was founded.

The Santa Monica-based company, which began as a browser-based virtual assistant company — “You send us a task and we get the task done,” recalled TaskUs chief executive Bryce Maddock — is now one of the main providers in the growing field of content moderation for social networks and content annotation for training the algorithms that power artificial intelligence services around the world.

“What I can tell you is we do content moderation for almost every major social network and it’s the fastest growing part of our business today,” Maddock said.

From a network of offices spanning the globe from Mexico to Taiwan and the Philippines to the U.S., the thirty two year-old co-founders Maddock and Jaspar Weir have created a business that’s largest growth stems from snuffing out the distribution of snuff films; child pornography; inappropriate political content and the trails of human trafficking from the user and advertiser generated content on some of the world’s largest social networks.

(For a glimpse into how horrific that process can be, take a look at this article from Wiredwhich looked at content moderation for the anonymous messaging service, Whisper.)

Maddock estimates that while the vast majority of the business was outsourcing business process services in the company’s early days (whether that was transcribing voice mails to texts for the messaging service PhoneTag, or providing customer service and support for companies like HotelTonight) now about 40% of the business comes from content moderation.

Image courtesy of Getty Images

Indeed, it was the growth in new technology services that attracted Blackstone to the business, according to Amit Dixit, Senior Managing Director at Blackstone.

“The growth in ride sharing, social media, online food delivery, e-commerce and autonomous driving is creating an enormous need for enabling business services,” said Dixit in a statement. “TaskUs has established a leadership position in this domain with its base of marquee customers, unique culture, and relentless focus on customer delivery.”

While the back office business processing services remain the majority of the company’s revenue, Maddock knows that the future belongs to an increasing automation of the company’s core services. That’s why part of the money is going to be invested in a new technology integration and consulting business that advises tech companies on which new automation tools to deploy, along with shoring up the company’s position as perhaps the best employer to work for in the world of content moderation and algorithm training services.

It’s been a long five year journey to get to the place it’s in now, with glowing reviews from employees on Glassdoor and social networks like Facebook, Maddock said. The company pays well above minimum wage in the market it operates in (Maddock estimates at least a 50% premium); and provides a generous package of benefits for what Maddock calls the “frontline” teammates. That includes perks like educational scholarships for one child of employees that have been with the company longer than one year; healthcare plans for the employee and three beneficiaries in the Philippines; and 120 days of maternity leave.

And, as content moderation is becoming more automated, the TaskUs employees are spending less time in the human cesspool that attempts to flood social networks every day.

“Increasingly the work that we’re doing is more nuanced. Does this advertisement have political intent. That type of work is far more engaging and could be seen to be a little bit less taxing,” Maddock said.

But he doesn’t deny that the bulk of the hard work his employees are tasked with is identifying and filtering the excremental trash that people would post online.

“I do think that the work is absolutely necessary. The alternative is that everybody has to look at this stuff. it has to be done in a way thats thoughtful and puts the interests of the people who are on the frontlines at the forefront of that effort,” says Maddock. “There have been multiple people who have been involved in sex trafficking, human trafficking and pedophilia that have been arrested directly because of the work that TaskUs is doing. And the consequence of someone not doing that is a far far worse world.”

Maddock also said that TaskUs now shields its employees from having to perform content moderation for an entire shift. “What we have tried to do universally is that there is a subject matter rotation so that you are not just sitting and doing that work all day.”

And the company’s executive knows how taxing the work can be because he said he does it himself. “I try to spend a day a quarter doing the work of our frontline teammates. I spend half my time in our offices,” Maddock said.

Now, with the new investment, TaskUs is looking to expand into additional markets in the UK, Europe, India, and Latin America, Maddock said.

“So far all we’ve been doing is hiring as fast as we possibly can,” said Maddock. “At some point in the future, there’s going to be a point when companies like ours will see the effects of automation,” he added, but that’s why the company is investing in the consulting business… so it can stay ahead of the trends in automation.

Even with the threat that automation could pose to the company’s business, TaskUs had no shortage of other suitors for the massive growth equity round, according to one person familiar with the company. Indeed, Goldman Sachs and Softbank were among the other bidders for a piece of TaskUs, the source said.

Currently, the company has over 11,000 employees (including 2,000 in the U.S.) and is looking to expand.

“We chose to partner with Blackstone because they have a track record of building category defining businesses. Our goal is to build TaskUs into the world’s number one provider of tech enabled business services.  This partnership will help us dramatically increase our investment in consulting, technology and innovation to support our customer’s efforts to streamline and refine their customer experience,” said Maddock in a statement.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2018, subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

The Best New WhatsApp Features You Might Have Missed

whatsapp-new-features

When you’re using an app day in and day out, it’s easy to miss new features that get added. You get a notification for an update, you update the app, and you continue using it as you always have done. However, most WhatsApp updates include several new features. To get these new features, you will need the latest version of WhatsApp. You can download the app from the respective app store, or update it on your phone if you already have it installed. Download: WhatsApp for Android (Free) Download: WhatsApp for iOS (Free) The Best New WhatsApp Features of 2018…

Read the full article: The Best New WhatsApp Features You Might Have Missed

whatsapp-new-features

When you’re using an app day in and day out, it’s easy to miss new features that get added. You get a notification for an update, you update the app, and you continue using it as you always have done. However, most WhatsApp updates include several new features.

To get these new features, you will need the latest version of WhatsApp. You can download the app from the respective app store, or update it on your phone if you already have it installed.

Download: WhatsApp for Android (Free)
Download: WhatsApp for iOS (Free)

The Best New WhatsApp Features of 2018

Group Video and Voice Calls

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

WhatsApp voice calls and video calls are completely free. And now you are no longer restricted to just having one-on-one conversations. WhatsApp’s new group calling for voice and video lets you talk with up to three other people at the same time.

To start a group call, you will first need to call one person. Once that call is on, tap the little user icon at the top-right corner of the chat to add another participant. You can’t add two extra participants together, so just add them one after another.

It works seamlessly and is as reliable as doing a one-on-one voice or video call. Of course, if you want to talk to more than four people, you can use Appear.in instead.

“Catch Up” on Group Chats (And More)

whatsapp group

Every WhatsApp user knows that its groups could do with a few more features, whether to protect yourself from the incessant noise or to catch up with chats more easily. WhatsApp recently rolled out a number of improvements for group chats that address core issues.

Catch-up: A new @ button appears at the bottom right corner of the chat when you’ve been mentioned by someone, or if someone has quoted you, while you were away. It’s easier to catch up on something you might have missed.

Protection From Re-Adding: WhatsApp groups don’t need your consent to add you to a group. Now, if you leave that group, an admin can’t just add you back immediately.

Description: For more formal groups, there’s a quick description field where administrators can set basic rules or state the group’s purpose.

Participant Search: A simple search field to find anyone.

The Best New WhatsApp Features of 2017

Delete Messages to “Unsend” Mistakes

delete whatsapp message

Who among us hasn’t wished to take back something we said? WhatsApp is finally letting you avoid embarrassing situations by letting you delete messages in any chat. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Long-press on a message to select it.
  2. From the options bar that shows up, tap the trash can icon.
  3. Choose whether you want to delete just for yourself or for everyone.

Like Gmail’s “unsend” option, this feature is time-restricted. It’s unclear how long you can take to delete the message, but you definitely can’t delete day-old texts. So the sooner you delete it, the better.

Check Which Chats Are Using Up Storage Space

whatsapp storage space

With the amount of media shared on WhatsApp regularly, it ends up hogging a lot of storage space on your device. It’s even more annoying that WhatsApp doesn’t let you store media on external storage.

To free up space, you’ll need to delete some stuff. WhatsApp has an option to see which chats are taking up the most amount of space on your phone.

Go to Menu > Settings > Data and Storage Usage > Storage Usage. You’ll see list of your chats sorted by which one takes up the most storage space.

Now you can hop into that chat, check the Media files you’ve exchanged, and start deleting whatever you don’t need in order to free up storage space.

Share Your Live Location

whatsapp live location

“Where are you?” is probably the most typed phrase in text messaging history. To avoid that constant exchange, WhatsApp now lets you share your live location with someone else.

Here’s how to share live your location on WhatsApp:

  1. Open any chat and tap the attachment icon.
  2. Tap Location.
  3. Tape Share Live Location.
  4. Choose to share for 15 minutes, one hour, or eight hours.

It’s super easy and makes things much more convenient for anyone who is waiting for you. Of course, if you don’t want it to broadcast live, you can just share your location on WhatsApp as a one-time thing.

Set a WhatsApp Status

If you’ve used Snapchat or know about Instagram Stories, WhatsApp Status will seem quite familiar. It’s a visual message—a video, photo, or GIF—that is broadcast to all your contacts.

Status shows up as its own tab next to Chats and Calls. In that pane, you will see all the statuses updated by your contacts. These remain active for 24 hours from the time of upload. People can upload multiple statuses in one day.

  • To see a contact’s next or previous status, tap the right or left edge of the screen, respectively.
  • To skip to the next contact’s status, swipe left.
  • To comment on a status, swipe up.

To create your own status, tap the camera icon next to the status pane or the green floating icon in the bottom-right corner. You can choose to shoot a new photo or video (up to 45 seconds) or add a photo or GIF from your gallery. You can draw or write on the status, and even add emoji.

It’s just like Snapchat or Instagram Stories. You can see who has viewed your status, and anyone can reply to a status as well. And there are plenty of options for limiting who can see your status.

New WhatsApp feature: status and privacy

  • You can send the status individually to a person or a group chat you’re part of.
  • You can add it as your public status, which is seen by all of your contacts.
  • Tapping the cog wheel next to “My Status” in Android, or the “Privacy” setting in iOS, lets you choose specific contacts to share with.
  • You can also choose to share the status with everyone except a few specific contacts.

And just like WhatsApp encrypts all messages, Status updates are also protected from snooping eyes.

Two-Factor Authentication

whatsapp two step verification

You can never be too careful with your personal data on the internet. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is must-have safety requirement now. To ensure that someone else can’t hijack your WhatsApp account, enable 2FA right away.

Go to Settings > Account > Two-step verification and follow the instructions. You’ll be asked to add a six-digit passcode as well as your email address. The next time you register your phone number with WhatsApp, you will be prompted to key in this passcode or use the listed email address to get access to your account.

Make the passcode something you can remember, but unrelated to your actual phone number. For example, don’t use the last six digits of your phone number as your passcode. Your birthday probably isn’t a great idea, either.

Change Numbers and Keep Your WhatsApp Data

If you have changed your phone number, you can still continue to use the same WhatsApp account with all its data intact. Go to Settings > Account > Change number, and follow the instructions.

It’s best to back up WhatsApp completely before you start this. To do that, go to Settings > Chats > Chat Backup. Use both WhatsApp’s backup server and Google Drive for your backup.

We strongly advise that you read WhatsApp’s guide to changing your phone number before you proceed. Have it open on your computer or a second screen while you go through the process.

Once you change your number, the process is completely seamless for all your friends. They will see you on their WhatsApp list as before, even though your number has changed.

Search and Share GIFs

New WhatsApp feature: GIF search

You can now search for and add GIFs as reactions, which is great, because GIFs are the language of the internet.

Tap the emoji icon, and you will see two tabs in the pane. The first has emoji, like it has always had, while the second lets you search Giphy, a large repository of reaction GIFs. You never need to leave the chat window, as searching happens within the app. However, this feature won’t work when you don’t have an active internet connection.

Of course, you can continue to add GIFs from your storage. In the gallery attachment, you’ll see a way to upload photos, videos, and a third tab for GIFs.

Send Offline Messages on iPhone

New WhatsApp feature: offline messages on iPhone

For a long time, Android users enjoyed one feature iPhone users didn’t: offline messaging. If an Android user didn’t have an active internet connection, they could still reply to messages, which would be sent whenever they reconnected. But not on the iPhone, until now.

In 2017, the company added this ability, so you can type out and send these messages while offline. They’ll stay on your phone until you regain an internet connection, at which time they will be sent automatically.

Share Up to 30 Photos

New WhatsApp feature: share more photos

WhatsApp has also increased the number of photos you can share at one time. Now you can select up to 30 images at a time and send them together. Previously, this was limited to 10 photos at a time.

This also extends to WhatsApp Web and WhatsApp’s desktop clients. That’s the best part of this feature, since you are more likely to have an extensive collection of photos on your computer.

The Best New WhatsApp Features of 2016

Tag Individuals in Group Chats With @ Mentions

WhatsApp New Feature -- At Mention in Groups

WhatsApp groups can get overwhelming. Opening the app to see 300 new messages, you don’t know if you actually need to read all of them. In a new update, WhatsApp is solving the problem of information overload by adding “@” mentions.

When you type the @ symbol in a group chat, a menu will pop up listing all the people in that group. Select the person you want. Now that person will receive a notification that they have been mentioned in the chat.

Notifications from @ mentions show up even if the person has muted the group chat. For your own @ mentions, you might see your phone number instead of your name. To fix this, add yourself as a contact in your smartphone’s address book.

Send and Receive GIFs

WhatsApp New Feature -- GIFs

GIFs are the language of the Internet, and you can now finally talk with them on WhatsApp. When you go to attachments > Gallery, you’ll see a GIFs option, next to Images and Videos. Add the GIF to send it on the chat. If the receiver is using a compatible version of WhatsApp, they’ll be able to tap the GIF to play it.

Snapchat-Style Image Editing

WhatsApp New Feature -- Image Editing Emojis

The new trend in sharing images is to annotate them. Snapchat started the fad of adding an emoji or some custom text. Then Instagram copied it with Stories. Now WhatsApp is imitating the feature too.

When you’re sharing an image on WhatsApp, you’ll see three options in the corner:

  1. Emoji icon: Add an emoji to the photo. You can rotate these as well.
  2. Text icon: Add some funky text to your photo.
  3. Paintbrush: Draw with your finger on your image, after choosing a color.

New Ways to Shoot Photos and Videos

WhatsApp New Feature -- Camera Video Photo

WhatsApp has three new ways to simplify taking pictures and videos.

  • When you use the front-facing cam to take a selfie, you can now switch on “Flash”. This brightens your screen to full, casting more light on your face.
  • In camera mode, double-tap the screen to switch between front and rear cameras. This works for both video and photo.
  • When shooting videos, slide two fingers up or down the screen to zoom in or out, respectively.

Quote Messages for Clear Replies

WhatsApp New Feature -- Quote Message Replies

In a free-wheeling conversation, it gets difficult to track what sentence someone is replying to. A new feature adds context to replies by quoting the original message.

When you’re replying to a message, long-press that message. You’ll find a “Reply” arrow button on top. Tap that, and type your reply. When you send it, it’ll quote the original message and add your reply.

This way, others don’t have to wonder which point you were replying to, or scroll up to see the message.

Make Text Bold, Italics, and Strikethrough

WhatsApp New Feature -- Text Formatting

It has been some time since WhatsApp added basic text formatting, but not many people know how to use it. Thankfully, it’s surprisingly simple.

Make text bold by adding asterisks: add an asterisk (*) before the first letter and after the last letter, to make everything in between appear bold.

For example, *MakeUseOf is awesome* will appear as MakeUseOf is awesome.

Make text italic by adding underscores: add an underscore (_) before the first letter and after the last letter, to make everything in between appear italicized.

For example, _MakeUseOf is awesome_ will appear as MakeUseOf is awesome.

Add strikethrough to text by adding underscores: Add a tilde (~) before the first letter and after the last letter, to make everything in between appear with a line going through it.

For example, ~MakeUseOf is awesome~ will appear as MakeUseOf is awesome.

Control Your Privacy on WhatsApp

WhatsApp New Feature -- Facebook Share Information Privacy

WhatsApp shares its information with Facebook. At some point, you probably got a message about this, with a convoluted note. Maybe you ignored it, maybe you didn’t pay attention and accepted it. But if you’re not careful, WhatsApp will share your private profile (but not your phone number or chats) with Facebook.

Thankfully, it’s a simple process to stop sharing WhatsApp information with Facebook. Go to Settings > Account and uncheck the box next to “Share my account info”.

Zoom, Pop Out, and Edit Videos

The new update completely changes what you can do with a video shared in WhatsApp. For starters, any video you download now has the same “pinch to zoom” mechanism that you find in photos. It’s a little difficult to pan-and-scan once you are zoomed in, but you’ll get the hang of it soon enough.

Additionally, a new option lets you open any video in a pop-out floating window, just like playing YouTube videos in the background. This way, you can pop that video out and let it continue playing while you browse your other WhatsApp messages.

Finally, WhatsApp also has basic video editing features, including cropping or trimming the video to reduce its size and reshare it.

Send and Receive PDFs

The internet actually has some fantastic sites for free ebooks. However, they’re mostly in PDF format. So until now, if you found a gem of a PDF, you couldn’t previously share it with your friends on WhatsApp. Similarly, the mobile phone and credit card bills that land in your email inbox in PDF format couldn’t be “WhatsApped” to someone else who needed to verify or approve them.

Now, you can now finally send PDFs to others, along with most of the other popular document formats.

Share Photos From Cloud Drives

Speaking of sharing documents, that’s one of the handiest new features added to WhatsApp in 2016. Now, when you tap to share photos, you can simply dive into your favorite online cloud drive and add pictures from there.

WhatsApp has added support to let you send documents from cloud-based drives like Google Drive and Dropbox, along with your internal storage. It’s a small step towards making it easier to share anything.

Of course, you’ll need the relevant app installed and set up on your phone to be able to access its files. I’d highly recommend having Microsoft Office or Google Docs installed on your smartphone to take advantage of all these file-sharing capabilities.

And personally, I think it’s best to use Google Photos and its unlimited photo storage space rather than any of the other solutions.

Auto-Sorted Links, Docs, and Media

So, your contacts can now send you documents. Add to this fact that photos and links were already shareable, and WhatsApp has a whole lot of media flying around. How do you track it all?

Thankfully, WhatsApp now auto-sorts all the links, documents, and photos or videos shared in any chat, whether a group or individual. Just open a chat, tap the three-dot options icon in the top-right corner, and select “Media”.

You’ll find three tabs for Media, Documents, and Links, which house all the relevant items shared in that chat.

Clear Chat but Keep Starred Messages

Speaking of Starred messages, their utility can’t be denied. However, those who liked to clear their chats—especially if your Android is running low on storage—also used to lose these Starred messages in doing so.

The new update now lets you choose to retain these Starred messages while clearing the chat, so that the important stuff stays and the inane banter goes away. Nice and easy!

Control Download Settings for Data or Wi-Fi

whatsapp network usage

WhatsApp is aware of how many of its users are worried about the amount of data it uses while connecting to the internet through 4G. A new setting allows you to minutely control this data usage.

Go to Options (Three-dot icon) > Settings > Data and Storage Usage and you will find extended options to control how and when media is auto-downloaded. So when you’re using mobile data, you can set it to download only images; while roaming, no media; and when you’re on Wi-Fi, to download everything.

There’s also an option for “Low Data Usage” when making a WhatsApp Voice Call, although this was already present in earlier versions and is not new.

The Best New WhatsApp Features of 2015

“Star” Messages to Find Them Later

whatsapp starred messages

When someone sends an important message on WhatsApp, you can’t save it. Finding it later can be a pain, despite the robust search engine in WhatsApp. One of our workarounds was to use hashtags to mark important messages. But now, there’s a cool new tool.

WhatsApp lets you “star” messages. Long-press any message, choose the Star in the top menu bar, and move on. It’s exactly like a bookmark or a favorite.

Later, when you want to look up any bookmarked message, go to Menu > Starred Messages and you’ll see them all, listed chronologically.

The starred messages can also be searched, so you can find all the important stuff you marked by some person. You can also ‘unstar’ a message later, so that the Starred Messages can be cleaned up easily.

Back Up Chats to Google Drive

whatsapp chat backup

You can restore your WhatsApp chat history in a few steps. But what if you lost your phone, or got a new one, or had to reset your existing storage? While WhatsApp backs up chat history regularly, there’s an easier (and better) way: Google Drive.

WhatsApp for Android lets you automatically back up your chat logs to Google Drive. Go to Menu > Settings > Chats and Calls > Chat Backup > Google Drive Settings and set it up. I’d recommend backing up daily (you can choose weekly, monthly, or manual), over Wi-Fi only (thus saving data costs), and including videos.

Easier Way to Clear or Archive Chats

whatsapp clear chats

If you’re already backing up those chats, there’s no reason for you to keep really old messages, is there? It’s time to clear things up, and WhatsApp has made it simpler than ever.

Go to Menu > Settings > Chats and Calls > Chat History > Clear All Chats and you’ll see multiple options. You can clear all messages, clear all except starred messages, and delete media from your phone while at it. Choose what you want and WhatsApp will do the rest.

You can do this same action with specific chats too, whether with individuals or groups. In any chat, tap Menu > More > Clear Chat and you’ll see the same options.

Mark Chats as Read or Unread

You can now hide your WhatsApp status or when you were last seen, which is great. But for your own personal usage, sometimes, you might want to mark a message as unread.

Think about it in email. The ability to right-click and mark as unread is a great way to remind yourself that you haven’t fully registered an email, that you need to reply to it, or that it’s important in some way.

You can now do that in WhatsApp too. Choose a chat with any contact or group, long-press on it, and tap “Mark as Unread”. You can do the opposite too—long-press a chat you haven’t read and you’ll see an option to “Mark as Read”, so it seems like you’ve read the message without ever opening the chat.

Do note that this doesn’t mean change the message’s status for your recipient. The recipient still sees that you have read the message. It only reflects as unread in your own phone.

Mark as read/unread has also made its way to WhatsApp Web.

Use Custom Notifications for People and Groups

whatsapp custom notifications

Some contacts and chat groups are more important than others, right? Well, then set a different type of notification alert for them. WhatsApp has rolled out custom notifications.

One of the cornerstones of blocking mobile distractions is to allow the right people through and cut off everyone else, and that’s what this feature does. Open any chat, tap the title bar, and you’ll find an option for Custom Notifications.

In it, you can set the notification tone, vibration effect, popup notification, and the color of the LED light for new messages. For Whatsapp voice calls, you’ll only get custom ringtones and vibrations.

Link Previews

This is a neat new feature that doesn’t really make you do anything special, but just adds to the overall experience.

When a link is pasted into a WhatsApp chat, you will now see a link preview with an image from the article, the headline, and the base URL, much like what you see on Facebook or Twitter.

If you’re the one sharing a link, you have the option to not include that preview, too.

WhatsApp Keeps on Getting Better and Better

WhatsApp is already a fantastic messaging tool, and with every new update it gets even better.

These are the best features WhatsApp has added over the years, but there are bound to be many more to come. So why not bookmark this article for future reference.

Read the full article: The Best New WhatsApp Features You Might Have Missed