Telegram users increase by 500%

  • WhatsApp rival Telegram has seen a 500 per cent increase in new users amid widespread dissatisfaction with the way the Facebook-owned app handles people’s data
  • Telegram recorded 25 million new users over the last 72 hours, according to founder Pavel Durov, taking the total number of users above 500 million
  • This is roughly a quarter of the estimated 2 billion WhatsApp users around the world, though many users of the world’s most popular messaging app took to social media this week to urge others to leave the platform due to privacy concerns that data will be used outside their country. 
  • This change not affect users in the UK or EU but it has still prompted mass abandonment of the app in these regions
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Nextdoor Moderators under pressure due to spread of misinformation 

  • For months, Nextdoor moderators have struggled with the challenge of addressing QAnon content on its neighbourhood sites — but after last week’s deadly attack on the US Capitol, the pressure between moderators and the company’s policy team may have reached a breaking point
  • In screenshots of forum posts, obtained by The Verge, moderators expressed concern that Nextdoor’s misinformation policies did not fully bar discussions of conspiracy theories like QAnon
  • NextDoor is a social media platform which is designed for interaction between neighbours
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Google Speakers launch new guest mode 

  • Google smart speakers have launched a new option called “Guest Mode” which is enabled by saying “Hey Google, turn on guest mode,” prompting the speaker to act more like a public Google Assistant terminal and less like your own personal assistant.
  • When Guest Mode is turned on, queries are no longer saved to your Google account and some personal data like your calendar won’t be shown
  • However, the speaker will still be able to do the basics like set timers, answer questions, and play music
  • However, don’t think this works as a way to secure your personal data: turning off Guest Mode is as simple as asking for the speaker to do it. The idea is apparently that if you’re having guests over to your house (which, right now: please don’t), they won’t accidentally see any personal information
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GCSE and A Level students might have mini exams

  • A-level, AS and GCSE students in England could be asked to sit mini external exams to help teachers with their assessments after formal exams were cancelled last week
  • In a letter to the exams regulator, Ofqual, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said this would help teachers to decide “deserved grades”
  • He promised not to use an algorithm which led to the controversy last summer
  • Headteachers said the “devil was in the detail” for these plans
  • The letter was published on Wednesday morning, as Mr Williamson appeared before the education select committee to answer questions on the impact of Covid-19 on education
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Pharmacies launch lifeline scheme for victims of domestic abuse 

  • Pharmacies have joined forces with the government to launch a codeword scheme which provides a “lifeline” to domestic abuse victims suffering under the strain of renewed lockdown measures
  • Domestic abuse has risen since the UK imposed restrictions to curb the spread of Covid last spring
  • The new scheme is being rolled out across independent pharmacies and Boots stores from Thursday, and allows victims who may be trapped at home with their abusive partners to discreetly ask for help
  • If a victim asks for ANI (which stands for action needed immediately), a trained pharmacy worker will offer a private space where they can support them to either contact domestic abuse services or the police
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