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WhatsApp’s New Privacy Feature: Blocking Screenshots of Profile Pictures

Engineers at parent company Meta have suddenly initiated a global rollout of a new feature on WhatsApp. Users are now unable to take screenshots of profile pictures, thanks to a switch that has been quietly activated.

The block works similarly to the privacy measures used by banking software and streaming services like Netflix. Its primary aim is to prevent instances of impersonation and harassment that have been plaguing the app.

Numerous banks, including NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland, have issued warnings to customers about impersonation scams on WhatsApp. These scams typically involve criminals posing as friends or family members, requesting urgent monetary assistance under false pretenses.

GB News has reported on this development, noting that the update has been observed on Android devices. However, attempts to replicate the block on profile picture screenshots have yielded mixed results, suggesting that the rollout is still in progress worldwide.

When trying to capture a profile picture in fullscreen, users will encounter an error message preventing them from taking a screenshot. Instead of the intended image, they will end up with a blank screen shot.

“Can’t take a screenshot due to app restrictions,” a notification will display at the bottom of the screen, indicating the limitation imposed by the new feature.

WhatsApp’s recent update builds on its history of implementing privacy-focused features. Back in 2019, the app disabled the option to download and save profile pictures to deter impersonation attempts.

Despite these efforts, scammers have continued to find ways around the restrictions, prompting Meta to introduce the latest update. The company hopes to curb impersonation, harassment, and bullying on its platform once and for all.

By utilizing technology utilized by other mobile applications, WhatsApp is now able to prevent screenshots just like banks do with sensitive information. This measure is akin to the restrictions placed on capturing copyrighted content from services like Netflix or Disney+.

The new update arrives shortly after Meta addressed a technical issue causing iPhone users to experience duplicate photos on WhatsApp. Now that the long-awaited screenshot block is in effect, the platform can focus on implementing other changes related to profile pictures within the app.

Initial tests suggest that WhatsApp will soon allow users to share distinct profile pictures and usernames with specific contacts. This enhancement will build upon the existing feature that allows users to conceal their profile picture from unsaved contacts.

Stay tuned for more updates as WhatsApp, under the ownership of Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, continues to enhance its features and security measures to provide a safer user experience.

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New Options Arriving for Google Photos Users

Last month, Google services enthusiast AssembleDebug shared on X that Google Photos were working on a way to change how the app categorizes images of what it calls “Documents Since last month.” The new setup would let users manually alter the way various images like screenshots, photos of receipts or event tickets, that sort of thing, are tagged and, making it easier to organize that kind of info in Photos. We’re seeing those new options on our own phones now, and manual categorization is finally rolling out!

If you’re someone who regularly uses Google Photos to store images of documents, you’ll notice that it doesn’t always get the categorization right. But with this new change, which more than one of us here at AP are seeing in Google Photos v6.74.0.612653301, you now have the option to change which category each image goes in.

When you view photos the app recognized as documents full-size, there’s a tag icon near the top left corner of the screen. Tapping the icon will surface options like “Change categories” or “Review all documents;” the latter takes you to the same list you’d witnessed if you navigate to the Documents view from Google Photos’ Search tab.

New categorization options are rolling out right about now! It’s likely a server-side update, and that’s important to note.

Google first introduced machine learning-powered document categorization to Photos back in 2021. Still, until now, there’s been no way to correct it. I’m viewing these options live on a Pixel 8 running the version of Google Photos mentioned above. These changes, as mentioned, tend to be server-side, though, which means that even if you’re using the same app version, the functionality still might not be enabled for you on Google’s end!

We just spotted the new feature today, not long after AssembleDebug shared evidence of similar document organization features coming soon to Google Drive. It’s shaping up to be a good year for Android users with messy digital lives! Can’t wait to see how this all pans out!!!

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Privacy and Security on WhatsApp Introducing New Features

Privacy security of user data are high on WhatsApp’s list of priorities and that perhaps helps the app remain one among the best encrypted instant messaging apps out there. The company recently starting testing a new label to emphasize chat encryption and other recently-released utilities already helps to keep your chats secure from prying eyes.

Good examples which come to mind immediately are chat lock!, which allows hiding private conversations and app lock for WhatsApp, as well. A peek at the latest beta reveals the latter is in for a major upgrade and we couldn’t be more excited!

If you want to secure your conversations with biometric authentication, WhatsApp offers two ways – the first is to hide private chats from the main chat lists by enabling chat lock on a per-conversation basis. Once activated, you’ll have to pull down on your chat list, like when refreshing a webpage; and you’ll see an option for Locked chats appear at the top of the list. The app will request authentication by face or fingerprint when you try to unlock.

If you have a work phone where all the chats must be protected, you’re better off setting up an app lock. The feature is offered at a device level in several Android skins by major OEMs, but Meta’s chat app has its own version built in as well.

While combing through the latest WhatsApp beta, version 2.24.6.20, the sleuths at WABetaInfo discovered app lock is expanding beyond just biometric fingerprint authentication to include other unlock methods such as face unlock, and device passcodes. The change would help people set up the feature even if they don’t prefer fingerprint unlock or if they’re using an affordable Android device which lacks reliable biometric sensors.

Multiple authentication methods also help serve as backups for fingerprint authentication; like on that day when you’re wearing gloves but need to unlock the app. The update also improves the accessibility with app lock, because some people may be unable to use some of the available authentication methods.

While this is a big step up from the current implementation of WhatsApp’s lock feature, WABetaInfo cautions against installing the latest beta to try the feature before a wider release. That’s because the current beta version is prone to crashes, and that could compromise the app’s core functions.