WhatsApp Launches Self-Destruct Messages

From the end of November, Facebook’s WhatsApp users will have the option to automatically delete chats between the sender and recipient after 7 days.

Disappearing Messages

The new “disappearing messages” feature is not going to be the default setting and needs to be switched on by the user in the settings (or by the Admin in a group).  The 7-day time-limit will apply to read and unread messages. It will still be possible, however, for users who have the feature switched on to forward or screenshot any messages that they would like to keep. 

Why? Several Reasons…

The idea for this feature is similar to rival Snapchat’s “Stories” feature which allowed users to post videos and photos to their profile which then disappeared after 24 hours. As well as being a feature needed to help compete, disappearing messages also works in Instagram, and its addition to WhatsApp highlights Facebooks hopes to integrate and make Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram interoperable in the near future.

Close To Real Conversations

Also, the WhatsApp blog says that “most of what we send doesn’t need to be everlasting”, and that “Our goal is to make conversations on WhatsApp feel as close to in-person as possible, which means they shouldn’t have to stick around forever”. WhatsApp has said that this feature is a way of keeping the app light.

Privacy

One other key reason why this feature is being added is to further emphasise the privacy aspects of the end-to-end encrypted WhatsApp.  WhatsApp’s desire to retain the end-to-end encryption of the app that is thought to be the reason why it has taken WhatsApp so long to add this feature.  On the privacy point, WhatsApp has also said that deletion of conversations after 7 days is a way to give users “peace of mind” i.e. improved privacy.

Relevance and Memory

The practical realities of people leaving things on platforms that are no longer relevant or likely to be needed again (and yet being able to remember what a conversation was about) are also things which WhatsApp says it has considered in arriving at a 7-day deletion point.

Users Getting More Control

The addition of the feature at this time can also be attributed to a general push by WhatsApp to add more features that give users more control and keep the app attractive to business users.  For example, a new storage management tool was added earlier this week to help users to manage the space taken up on their phones by gifs, videos and images sent via WhatsApp. 

Good News

It can’t do any harm to roll out an essentially positive feature at a time when WhatsApp is trying to recover from criticism in recent years about e2e apps providing a safe communications channel for wrong-doers (e.g. the London Bridge attack), and recent allegations that third-party apps may be able to use WhatsApp’s online signalling feature to enable monitoring of the digital habits of anyone using WhatsApp.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For WhatsApp users, this feature is a value-adding option that could help to compete with rival message apps, retain their loyalty, and improve some practical aspects of the app (saving space on user’s phones), feeling more in control as well as bringing a feel-good factor about privacy. These factors are all valued by business users, who WhatsApp claim to have more than 50 million more of each month. For Facebook, not only is this one way to keep its pledge on improving privacy, but this is also an important stepping-stone in the integration and the interoperability of WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger.  Disappearing messages is also one of many augmentations of the WhatsApp service (along with WhatsApp Business and a new storage feature) that will keep this very successful free app up-to-date and relevant to current user needs going forward.

Are You Being Tracked By WhatsApp Apps?

A recent Business Insider Report has highlighted how third-party apps may be exposing some data and details of the activity of WhatsApp users.

WhatsApp – Known For Encryption

Facebook-owned WhatsApp is known for its end-to-end encryption.  This means that only the sender and receiver can read the message between them. 

In addition to being convenient, free, and widely used in business, the secure encryption that users also value has even been a target for concerned governments (including the UK’s) who have campaigned for a ‘back door’ to be built-in in order to allow at least some security monitoring.

Able To Exploit Online Signalling

If the Business Insider revelations are correct, however, third-party apps may already be making the usage of WhatsApp less secure than users may think.  The business news website has reported that third-party apps may be able to use WhatsApp’s online signalling feature to enable monitoring of the digital habits of anyone using WhatsApp without their knowledge or consent.  This could include tracking who users are talking to, when they are using their devices and even when they are sleeping.

Shoulder Surfing

Back in April, there were also media reports that hackers may be potentially able to use ‘shoulder surfing’ (spying in close proximity to another phone) and the knowledge of a user’s phone number to obtain an account restoration code from WhatsApp which could allow a user’s WhatsApp account to be compromised.

Numbers In Google Search Results

Also, back in June, an Indian researcher highlighted how WhatsApp’s ‘Click to Chat’ feature may not hide a user’s phone number in the link and that looking up “site:wa.me” in Google, at the time, allegedly revealed 300,000 users’ phone numbers through public Google search results.

Other Reports

Other reports questioning how secure the data of WhatsApp users really is have also focused on how, although messages may be secure between users in real-time, backups stored on a device or in the cloud may not be under WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption protection.  Also, although WhatsApp only stores undelivered messages for 30 days, some security commentators have highlighted how the WhatsApp message log could be accessed through the chat backups that are sometimes saved to a user’s phone.

Signal?

One potential signal that WhatsApp may not be as secure as users may think could be the fact that, back in February, The European Commission asked staff to use the SIgnal app instead of WhatsApp.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

As may reasonably be expected from a widely used and free app owned by a tech giant, yes, WhatsApp collects usage and some other data from users, but it does still have end-to-end encryption. There are undoubtedly ways in which aspects of security around the app and its use could be compromised but for most business users it has become a very useful and practical business tool that has become central to how they regularly communicate with each other.  At the current time, WhatsApp’s owner, Facebook, appears to be busy concentrating much of its effort on competing with Zoom and on promoting its own desktop Messenger app free group video calls and chats that it has just launched. Even though WhatsApp is coming in for some criticism over possible security problems, the plan is still to grow the app, add more features, and keep it current and competitive which is why it recently ceased support for old operating systems.

Voice Control Your Printer

Amazon has announced its new ‘Printing With Alexa’ service that allows owners of Echo devices to operate their printer using voice commands.

Print What?

Printing With Alexa allows the simple “Alexa, print….” followed by what the user requires to produce a printed document.  Amazon says that the kinds of things that can be printed this way include “shopping and to-do lists, games like mazes and Sudoku, graph paper, lined paper, and test pages.”

The list of different documents, many of which are related to family activities, appears to reflect the working and learning from home that has become the new norm for many people over the last 6 months, and possibly again in the future with second spikes or more lockdowns. 

Connecting

Amazon says that the service will work with compatible printers that are connected to the same wireless network as your Alexa device (provided it is a compatible Echo device too). The service is activated when the user says “Alexa, discover my printer”, or navigates to the “Devices” screen in the Alexa App, selects “+”, selects “Add Device”, and chooses “Printer” as the device type. Amazon says that the service works with most IPP-enabled network-connected printers manufactured by HP, Brother, Canon, and Epson.

Ink or Toner Re-Orders

The service also enables automatic ordering ink or toner from Amazon at a 10 per cent discount, thereby acting as a kind of hands-free replenishment process and providing extra revenue for Amazon.

Brand Voice

Back in February, before the worldwide pandemic lockdowns and working-from-home hit, Amazon was more focused on features for the business market with Alexa as it offered a new ‘Brand Voice’ capability through AWS (Brand Polly) to companies which enabled them to create their own custom voice for Alexa to replace the default voice with one that reflected their “persona”, such as the voice of Colonel Sanders for KFC.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The ‘Printing With Alexa’ service is another step in Amazon’s plan to tie Alexa (and Echo devices) more closely in with all aspects of the user’s life e.g. making phone calls, setting their appointments, alarms and reminders, and linking in with many other devices on their home network plus IoT devices.  This strategy may put Amazon’s digital assistant at the heart of the operation of modern home and will, as in this case with the printer cartridge re-ordering, tie in with Amazon’s retailing platforms, thereby providing increased revenue for Amazon and a monetising of Alexa.  This may even spread to the ordering of groceries.  For example, in July, Amazon announced that it was taking on the supermarkets and Ocado in the UK with free grocery deliveries from its Amazon Fresh service.

Even though the pandemic has dampened business-targeted announcements, Amazon is still planning to keep monetising Alexa in the business market too where there is huge potential for modifications and different targeted and customised versions of Alexa and digital assistants.  For example, in April last year, Amazon launched its Alexa for Business Blueprints, which is a platform that enables businesses to make their own Alexa-powered applications for their organisation and incorporate their own customised, private ‘skills’.

Featured Article – Medical Apps For Smart Devices

The global pandemic and news about tracking apps have put health and technology in the spotlight.  With this in mind, here are some examples of medical apps for smart devices and smart health products that involve a link between smart wearables, apps, and other smart products.

Just A Look, Not An Endorsement

Before we delve into the world of health-tech, we would like to stress that we have no connection to (and are not endorsing or selling) any of the brands or products mentioned in this article and that other brands and products to those mentioned are available.  The intention is simply to take a brief look at a range of product types that are currently available.

Samsung’s Smart Watch For Blood Pressure

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd (South Korea) has just announced the launch of its Samsung Health Monitor app to be used with Galaxy Watch Active2.

The smart app delivers a visual display of the wearer’s blood pressure to the watch and gives instructions if the readings present a potential danger.  Once the app is linked to the watch, and the app is calibrated every four weeks, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 wearer simply needs to tap their watch to measure their blood pressure.  The measurement results can be synced to the app on the user’s Galaxy phone and the results that have been tracked over days, weeks or months can also be shared with the user’s doctor as part of a medical review or consultation.

Heart Monitor

Samsung says that Electrocardiogram (ECG) tracking will also be supported on the Samsung Health Monitor app in South Korea within the third quarter of this year.

Other, EKG/ECG smart products and their associated apps are already available e.g. the mobile EKG monitor from AliveCor which links to a dedicated app to deliver and electrocardiogram (ECG) to a smartphone in around 30 seconds.

Fitness Watch

Many of us are already familiar with (or may have) a Fitbit or similar wearable health and fitness device.

The French ScanWatch, for example, is an advanced health/fitness watch that, for example, tracks heartbeat irregularities, and blood oxygen saturation during sleep, and connects to a smartphone (Android) app via Bluetooth.

Apple’s fitness tracking watch can also measure vital signs.

Sleep

Apple, for example, makes a number of other smart health tech gadgets that link to smartphone apps, such as the Beddit Sleep Monitor.  This system uses a slim, flat bracelet that feeds data about the wearer’s sleep to a smartphone app to help the user to improve the quality of their sleep.

Temperature Monitoring

With a high temperature (or limited high-temperature spikes) being a well-known symptom of COVID-19 for example, products such as the Withings Thermo thermometer, which gives the user an accurate temperature reading while automatically syncing with the app on the user’s iPhone or iPad, may be of particular interest to many people at this time. 

Blood Glucose Level Monitoring

For those who need to keep a close eye on their blood glucose levels, there are now some smart products on the market that can help achieve this.  One example is the iHealth Lab Inc Wireless Smart Gluco-Monitoring System, which comes with a glucometer, lancets and a lancing device, and it connects to an App which displays and records the results and keeps a history of all blood glucose measurements.

Brain Activity Monitor To Help Reduce Stress

Smart brain activity monitoring systems are also now available.  These use a headband device that communicates (via Bluetooth) with an app on the user’s smartphone or tablet.  The purpose of these apps, such as ‘Muse’, is to be able to help users to lower their stress levels, increase their resilience and improve their engagement/attention.

Breathing

One of the few real benefits of the global pandemic has been an improvement in air quality, due to the dramatic reduction in vehicle and industrial pollution. There are, however, smart products linked to apps that can help give alerts about air quality to those suffering from asthma or allergies.  One example is Atmotube Pro which uses sensors and a free mobile app to keep the user informed about any air quality threats and the presence of harmful gases.  Other examples include the Index BreezoMeter pollen and weather app.

Fertility Tracking

For those hoping to start a family, fertility tracking wearable and app combinations can help. Examples include the Ovia Fertility Tracker and Ava’s fertility tracking system.  These device/app combinations use a wearable bracelet to take the measurements e.g. temperature, pulse rate, breathing rate, and sleeping patterns to produce results that are displayed in graphics on a smartphone app so that a woman is able to more accurately judge when she is likely to be most fertile.

Track and Trace Apps

Perhaps the most important health app at the current time for many would be a track and trace app.  Unfortunately, the much-anticipated app that was being trialled in the Isle of Wight has now been ditched.  The hope is, with human track and tracing operating in the meantime, that an app based on Apple and Google’s technology will be available in the UK in the near future.

Looking Forward – Opportunities

Wearables linked to phone apps are a growth area that is providing many opportunities for businesses with health and fitness products that can be given significant added value thanks to a smart element and a good app.  The scope for businesses focusing on the health and fitness sector is huge although big tech names which already have integration of products and strong, recognisable, and trusted brands e.g. Apple or Samsung are in a particularly strong position.

Even though manufacturers of smart wearable technology are offering something of real value to consumers who are now, perhaps, more conscious than ever about health matters, they should not forget that security and privacy of the data stored and transmitted about the user should always be a priority, and it is in the interest of the manufacturer and the customer that correct safeguards are taken.

Custom Backgrounds and Live Captions in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft’s latest move in the battle between video conferencing and collaborative working online platforms is to add custom background effects and enable live captions.

New Features

Following on from its original announcement in April about the introduction of pre-selected backgrounds or a blur effect (introduced last year)  in video calls on the platform, Microsoft Teams has now announced the roll-out of new custom background effects in Teams, along with new features in the free version of Teams. 

Backgrounds

The new background feature enables users to customise their background by uploading their own images or choosing one of the collections of backgrounds available online. The stated idea behind the change is that it offers an easy and fast way for users to get creative and to express themselves in meetings.  Commercially, it looks likely to be another way to help Teams to compete against the likes of Zoom, which has grown its user base exponentially during the lockdown.

Collection

The types of backgrounds that Microsoft says its Teams users now have access to include The Simpsons living room, a mountain of LEGO building blocks, a collection from Fox (the Masked Singer, Family Guy, Duncansville and more), an Xbox theme, a blue or green Microsoft Solitaire background and event-specific collections such as 20 virtual backgrounds for users to show their support for the LGBTQI+ community.

New Features For The Free Version of Teams

With Zoom announcing end-to-end-encryption for its free version, Microsoft now has its own new, competitive features for the free version of Teams. These include being able to schedule meetings and send out invitations in advance, and to turn on live captions during calls and meetings to make them more inclusive.

Other features that users of the free version of Teams (up to 500,000 users) get include unlimited chat and search, audio and video calling, 10 GB of team file storage and 2 GB of personal file storage per person, the ability to use the Office web apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote) and unlimited app integration.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

This is another move by Microsoft in the battle to gain and retain users of its collaborative working platform and to ‘make hay while the sun shines’ in terms of maximising the surge in demand created by the pandemic and directed by Microsoft’s advertising campaigns.  Announcing the roll-out of these new features and the enhancements to the free version of Teams will help Microsoft to compete against challengers Zoom and Slack, and will add value for users and give them more reasons to stay loyal to Teams.

Voice and Contactless Technologies For a Safer Workplace

With businesses looking to ensure COVID-safe working conditions, the use of voice and contactless interfaces could help provide safer ways of carrying out daily work tasks.

Report

A recent report by 451 Research states that technology generally will play a crucial role for businesses continuity post-lockdown and that in the past 2 years (in the U.S.) there has been increased interest in the use of voice interfaces in the workplace, with voice-activated interfaces and digital assistants being among the top disruptive technologies that organisations were looking to adopt.  The report also highlights how, in the past year there has been a growing number of speech-enabled devices designed specifically for the workplace, such as desk phones, meeting room equipment and hearable devices.  Also, voice-enabled intelligent assistants have been integrated with meeting room equipment and team collaboration workflows.

Conclusions

Now, in the post-COVID-19 business environment, the report concludes that:

– These technologies and integrations could become particularly valuable in making the workplace safer and more contactless and help to retain the necessary physical distancing for those who are required to return.

– The need to provide a safe workplace will see organisations accelerating digital transformation initiatives, driving adoption of voice interfaces, biometrics, and real-time communications.

– Voice user interfaces, real-time communications and location management services will be used to help support frontline workers as well as helping organisations to further automate their operations.

Examples

Some of the examples cited in the report of those who currently use voice technology and who could benefit from using more of it include frontline workers such as nurses and doctors, first responders, factory workers, grocery store employees, drivers, and food and grocery and delivery gig workers.

It should be remembered that the report is U.S. based, where integrations of voice-enabled intelligent assistants with meeting room equipment and team collaboration workflows deployed in the workplace began around three years ago, and where intelligent assistants e.g. Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri are ubiquitous for the average consumer. Also, in the U.S, Amazon has been active in expanding its Alexa for Business that uses voice commands for e.g. managing meetings and controlling conference room devices.

Challenges

Some of the challenges that businesses in the UK face in addition to the market conditions and making the office/workplace physically safe on a daily basis are how they offer good service levels with many staff still not back at the office and how they can quickly and affordably take advantage of the benefits of technology to make things work and remain competitive.

Change

With social distancing looking as though it will need to be in place for many months to come, yet with many returning to workplaces in the UK after becoming used to working remotely (facilitated by technology), there is now an expectation that (and a necessity for) workplaces to change in order to maximise safety for the users of all work buildings.

Ways that businesses in the UK could operate safely, embrace technology, and move forward could include:

– Making more use of Alexa for Business, Microsoft’s Cortana, biometrics, and chatbots with AI for speech recognition.

– Workers continuing to make use of as Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Zoom, and using simple chatbots and other speech-based technologies e.g. voice-to-text transcription.

– Making even greater use of the Cloud.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Just as governments have to balance public health with the economy, most businesses will need key people to return to their premises and will already be at least in the process of physically creating an environment, working routines and policies that ensure maximum safety within available guidelines.

The realisation by many managers and their employees that technology can successfully be quickly mastered and used to keep critical parts of the business going during lockdown looks likely to contribute to serious consideration being given to the use of more technologies such as voice and contactless technologies going forward.

COVID Alerts From Google Maps

Google Maps is now issuing COVID-19 related alerts to those looking for public transport directions in cities, looking for medical facilities and testing centres, and for those crossing borders.

New Alerts

Google has announced on its blog that it is augmenting its Google Maps information with alerts relating to COVID-19 restrictions, requirements and advice depending on the subject of the search.  The new features in the latest release of Google Maps on Android and iOS include:

 – Alerts from local transit agencies e.g. if persons are required to wear a mask on public transportation in the area that they are searching for information about.  These alerts are being rolled out by Google in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, and the U.S.

– Driving alerts about COVID-19 checkpoints and restrictions along routes e.g. when crossing national borders in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.

– Alerts reminding Google Maps users searching for medical facilities or COVID-19 testing centres about eligibility and facility guidelines to avoid being turned away or causing additional strain on the local healthcare system.

Existing Alerts and Insights

These alerts are in addition to those features already introduced last year, such as crowdedness predictions for public transit stations in Google Maps, and insights introduced in February, such as temperature, accessibility, onboard security, and insights concerning designated women’s sections in regions where transit systems have them.

How Busy?

Google has also announced that those searching for transit stations on Maps will be able to see information about the times when that transit station is historically more or less busy, thereby enabling them to plan trips accordingly.  Also, Google Maps users can now see live data showing how busy a particular transit station is right now compared to its usual level of activity.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Travel, whether it be to or from re-opening workplaces or business trips now involves the need to avoid crowded places and to be aware of the different rules to apply as regards the wearing of masks or any travel restrictions in certain areas.  The introduction of these new features and insights to Google Maps is not only helpful to users in the current situation but will also help Google ensure that its services remain relevant and are used as people are spending more time on and relying more on other COVID-19 tracing and alert apps in different countries around the world.

Beware Fake Contact Tracer Messages

Just as you thought that cybercriminals had exploited every aspect of the pandemic with phishing, vishing, smishing and more, there are now warnings to beware of fake contact tracer messages.

Contact Tracing in the UK

Here in the UK, NHS contact tracers are now contacting those persons who are believed to have been in close contact with those who have tested positive for COVID-19.  The system works by those who test positive filling in a form (while they are well enough to do so) detailing where they have been plus when and who they have been in contact with.  From there, the NHS tracer contacts those who are believed to have been in close contact (via phone or text) and asks them to self-isolate for 14 days, the period by which symptoms of an infected person should have shown. Close contact is defined as face-to-face contact/close proximity for more than 15 minutes. 

This contact tracing service has been put into place before the app, which is designed to automatically do the same thing but has not been released yet.

Scam Messages

The type of scam messages that have already been observed by many people was highlighted by Stuart Fuller, Chairman of Lewes Football Club.  On his Twitter page, Mr Fuller shared a screenshot of a text message from the fraudsters and warned that such messages are not genuine and that clicking on the link in the message would lead to a phishing page.

The screenshot showed a text message which had a recommendation for the recipient to self-isolate because they had been in contact with someone who had tested positive for or showed symptoms of COVID-19.  The message included a link to follow for the recipient to get more information.

How?

On his blog, ethical hacker Jake Davis highlights how the problem with the UK government using SMS during COVID-19 is that people are more vulnerable than ever to fake information and SMS messages can easily be made to look as though they come from the government.  In a blog post, Mr Davis says that making an SMS message appear to come from the government is as simple as inserting “UK_Gov” instead of some digits as the sender.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

This and other similar types of smishing and phishing attacks are predicted to increase this year, and their success and prevalence is a sign of how vulnerable the COVID-19 outbreak it makes people feel, and how their search for and emotional reactions to information about health and financial matters are playing into the hands of criminals who are happy to exploit anyone.  Companies and organisations need to educate their staff about the threat, while businesses and individuals need to be vigilant and cautious about any unusual SMS messages or unsolicited phone calls, particularly those that offer rewards, create panic, warn of unpleasant consequences, or apply a feeling of pressure to act. Bear in mind that it is relatively easy to fake the source of a text message and although receiving such a message may at first be a shock, it is worth checking that the supposed government/NHS SMS is genuine before thinking about clicking on any links.

Google Store Takes Down App That Removes Chinese Software

Google has removed an app from its Play Store that was designed to help users to detect and delete apps that were made in China.

More Than 1 Million Downloads

The Remove China Apps, which is reported to have been downloaded by more than a million people on its first day has now been removed from Google’s Play Store following complaints from Chinese app makers that the app was clearly a form of market disruption.

The App

The app, which was developed by the Indian company One Touch AppLabs, was designed to help identify and remove any apps of Chinese origin from the user’s phone.  This included identifying extremely popular apps such as TikTok (owned by a Beijing-based company) and Zoom, whose founder was born in China.

If a user chose to delete all the apps that had been identified as being linked to China by Remove China Apps, the user would receive a message on their phone that is reported to have said “Congratulations. You are awesome. No China app found in your system.”

The app was not as successful, however, in being able to identify apps that had been pre-installed on Chinese-made smartphones.

Irony

Despite millions of downloads by Indian people hoping to rid themselves of Chinese apps, most smartphones in India were made in China. Also, some tech commentators have suggested that it may be difficult for Indian developers to make good equivalent apps and that a freeze on investment in India by countries like China (announced in April) could actually hit funding opportunities for Indian start-ups.

Why?

Remove China Apps, which was developed by an Indian company and has the vast majority of its downloads in India appears to have been released in response to tensions between China and India after Chinese troops were reported to have moved into the disputed Kashmir region.  Also, many people in India blame China for the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown they have been forced to live under since March.

What Did Google Say?

For Google, it appears to have simply been a matter of removing an app that potentially breached guidelines.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Clearly, there is a great deal of anti-Chinese feeling in India at the moment but it’s quite surprising anyway that an app that looks likely to have had a serious effect on competition and access to a large app market for companies simply because of their geographical base and/or origins was able to make it into Google’s Store in the first place.  Google itself is now facing criticism from some Indians for removing the app and, therefore, appearing to some to support China in the argument.  There is currently still a stand-off between the troops of both countries and the argument has also highlighted how many tech products and services used in India come from China, and how popular they are.  This is something that was also discovered by the US government in recent arguments relating to Huawei products. Global tech companies are now often finding themselves involved in global arguments.

New Tool Allows You To Bulk-Delete/Hide Old Facebook Posts

Facebook has announced the introduction of the ‘Manage Activity’ tool that allows users to archive or bulk-delete old Facebook posts based on a variety of filters.

Change

With most people being able to register with and become a user of Facebook over the last 14 years it is likely that over time, users posts on their timelines reflect changes in the views, attitudes, appearance, relationships and more. Also, with employers and many others that users make contact with checking Facebook profiles, or where there have, for example, been changes in relationships that users may wish to hide details off, Facebook has developed a tool to bulk delete user posts so that users can “more accurately reflect who you are today”.

Archive or Delete

The ‘Manage Activity’ tool gives users the option of moving large numbers of their old posts into an archive or sending them to trash so they can be deleted after 30 days.

Filters

Selecting which old posts to hide in the archive or delete can be achieved using different filter options such as the date of posts, or who features in the posts (useful if relationships have changed).

Old Photos

The tool can be used to hide or delete batches of old photos too by going to ‘Activity Log’ and the ‘Manage Posts’ button. Those who have already experimented with the new feature recommend switching to a grid view as it is easier to scan through old photos and select them.

Employers

When you consider that a 2018 CareerBuilder survey revealed that 70 per cent of employers use social media to screen candidates in the hiring process and that 43 per cent of employers use social media to check on current employees, it is easy to see some of the value of being able to at least hide or perhaps remove lots of old posts and photos.

Clear History Tool

In January, and after a gradual roll-out, and as part of its ‘Off-Facebook activity’, Facebook announced that its Clear History tool was available to all users in all countries. The tool was designed to help users to have more control over the protection of their data by allowing them to disconnect their web browsing data from their Facebook account.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Giving Facebook users more control over their data with tools like ‘Manage Activity’ and ‘Clear History’ is another way that Facebook can get back some of the trust that it lost with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, provide users with some extra value, and compete with other social media platforms. For employers who want to take a peek at potential job candidates, this means that they are now likely to get less of a real view of people of interest through this route although it remains to be seen how many Facebook users take advantage of the features of the new tool.

Data privacy and security and having control over personal data is something of great importance now to web users and this has been reflected in legislation (GDPR) and in new features and tools that many of the social media companies are adding to their platforms.