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WhatsApp now has two billion users and it’s ‘humbled to reach this milestone’

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London, UK - July 31, 2018: The buttons of WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and other apps on the screen of an iPhone.
One in four humans alive today now has an account with the Facebook-owned messaging app (Image: Getty)

WhatsApp has announced that it now has two billion users around the world.

Mark Zuckerberg snapped up WhatsApp for almost $20billion in 2016 and it’s now become one of the most popular apps of all time.

In a blog post, WhatsApp wrote: ‘We are excited to share that, as of today, WhatsApp supports more than two billion users around the world.

‘Mothers and fathers can reach their loved ones no matter where they are. Brothers and sisters can share moments that matter. Coworkers can collaborate, and businesses can grow by easily connecting with their customers.

‘Private conversations that once were only possible face-to-face can now take place across great distances through instant chats and video calling. There are so many significant and special moments that take place over WhatsApp and we are humbled and honoured to reach this milestone.’

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WhatsApp said it would continue to use encryption to protect users’ conversations and make they are not read by prying eyes.

‘We know that the more we connect, the more we have to protect,’ it added.

‘As we conduct more of our lives online, protecting our conversations is more important than ever.

‘That is why every private message sent using WhatsApp is secured with end-to-end encryption by default. Strong encryption acts like an unbreakable digital lock that keeps the information you send over WhatsApp secure, helping protect you from hackers and criminals. Messages are only kept on your phone, and no one in between can read your messages or listen to your calls, not even us. Your private conversations stay between you.

‘Strong encryption is a necessity in modern life. We will not compromise on security because that would make people less safe. For even more protection, we work with top security experts, employ industry leading technology to stop misuse as well as provide controls and ways to report issues — without sacrificing privacy.

‘WhatsApp started with the goal of creating a service that is simple, reliable, and private for people to use. Today we remain as committed as when we started, to help connect the world privately and to protect the personal communication of two billion users all over the world.’

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The app must listen to its fans, because it recently halted plans to put adverts into WhatsApp following a huge backlash.

It has reportedly disbanded the team working to ‘integrate’ ads in the app, meaning users are safe from unwanted commercial messages – for now.

The world’s most popular messaging service has more than 1.5 billion users but has so far avoided monetising this loyal userbase by showing them commercials.

Facebook, owners of the app, stands to rake in vast sums of cash by allowing companies to market their products on WhatsApp.

But when WhatsApp announced the new feature last year, some users threatened to delete their accounts.

The ‘Status Ads’ were supposed launch in 2020 and would have marked a huge change for WhatsApp, which famously vowed to never introduce advertising before it was snapped by Mark Zuckerberg for $19 billion in 2014.

Now the project has been shelved, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The WhatsApp update is set to annoy a lot of people - although we're sure many others won't even notice the change (Credit: WhatsApp, Getty)
The WhatsApp update could be set to annoy a lot of people – although we’re sure many others won’t even notice the change (Credit: WhatsApp, Getty)

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After finding about the ads, WhatsApp users immediately threatened to abandon their accounts.

‘Nice. I’m sure half the users will switch over to Telegram,’ one person wrote.

Another Twitter user added: ‘Alright, well, goodbye WhatsApp.

‘Why the heck does Facebook think this is a good idea? People use WhatsApp for professional contacts and Facebook for pleasure.

‘I don’t want ads. I’d rather pay $50 a year to use it ad-free, same as always. Idiots.’

These concerns appear to have now been addressed and the adverts  put on hold for the time being.

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Source: Metro News

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MWC 2020 cancelled as Barcelona bows to coronavirus concerns

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MWC won't be taking place this year after all (GSMA)
MWC won’t be taking place this year after all (GSMA)

The biggest tech event in Europe has been cancelled this year due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Mobile World Congress (MWC) usually takes place every February in Barcelona and brings together over 100,000 attendees to showcase all aspects of mobile technology.

However, the spread of coronavirus has caused many companies – including the likes of Sony and Amazon – to pull out of the show. Now the organisation in charge of the show has decided to cancel it altogether.

‘With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event,’ explained John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA Limited.

The announcement followed a crisis meeting of the GSMA board, after its hand was forced by the pullout of anchor European members including Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, BT and Nokia.

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Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau said earlier she wanted to send a ‘message of calm’, insisting the city was ready to host the event, while Spanish health officials reiterated that there was no reason to call off MWC.

SamsungSHANGHAI, CHINA - JUNE 26: People visit the Nokia booth on day one of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2019 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center on June 26, 2019 in Shanghai, China. The Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2019 themed on 'Intelligent Connectivity' will last for three days. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
MWC is Europe’s biggest tech trade event (VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

MORE: Real-time map shows spread of coronavirus as it happens

The World Health Organisation, a UN agency leading the coronavirus crisis response, had also called in vain for calm.

‘There is no evidence at present to suggest that there is community spread outside China, so WHO is not currently requesting that large gatherings are cancelled,’ WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told Reuters in Geneva.

That failed, however, to alleviate concerns among major exhibitors that the precautions would be insufficient to halt the virus that has spread beyond China’s borders to two dozen countries.

‘To bring people together and connect them: That is what Telekom stands for. This is also what the Mobile World Congress, the ‘class reunion’ of our industry, stands for,’ Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges posted on LinkedIn.

Attendees walk to enter at the Mobile World Congress wireless show, in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. The annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) runs from 25-28 February in Barcelona, where companies from all over the world gather to share new products. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Attendees walk to enter Mobile World Congress in 2019 (AP)

He added, however, that large gatherings of people with many international guests posed a particular risk: ‘To take this risk would be irresponsible.’

The Chinese contingent at MWC has numbered 5,000-6,000 in recent years, making the event particularly vulnerable given the outbreak of the virus that has killed more than 1,100 people on the Chinese mainland.

In its statement, the GSMA said the host cities and partners respected and understood its decision, adding that they would ‘continue to be working in unison’ towards staging next year’s event.

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Source: Metro News

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Simple handwashing technique can limit the spread of coronavirus, scientists reveal

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Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport in London after the last British Airways flight from China touched down in the UK following an announcement that the airline was suspending all flights to and from mainland China with immediate effect amid the escalating coronavirus crisis. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday January 29, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport in London after the last British Airways flight from China touched down in the UK following an announcement that the airline was suspending all flights from the country (Image: Steven Parsons/ PA)

Scientists have said that simple handwashing techniques could drastically limit the spread of coronavirus.

Health chiefs are trying to stop the feared disease becoming a pandemic and fear it could kill tens of millions of people.

Now researcher have claimed that ‘traveller engagement with proper hand-hygiene at all airports has the potential to reduce the risk of a potential pandemic by 24-69%’.

What this means is that people jetting off around the world should wash their hands and also use sanitiser products.

If these ‘mitigation strategies’ are implemented in ten key locations the pandemic risk can drop by up to 37%, the authors added.

The study, “Hand-hygiene mitigation strategies against global disease spreading through the air transportation network,” suggests that if increased hand-washing practices were instituted in ten key aiports including London’s Heathrow there would be a significant impact on decreasing the spread of viruses.

These ten airports ‘are not just locations that see large volumes of passengers, they also connect travelers with destinations in all parts of the world’.

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‘Airports, and airplanes, are highly infectious because they are close, confined areas with large, mobile populations,’ said Christos Nicolaides of the University of Cyprus and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

‘Viruses are spread through bodily fluids, so keeping hands clean at major transport hubs is central to control spread.’

Airports contain numerous surfaces that are frequently touched by travellers, including self-service check-in screens, gate bench armrests, water fountain buttons, door handles, seats and tray tables.

These public areas need to be cleaned regularly, whilst travellers should wash their hands, make sure they wear face masks and follow good coughing eqituwtte by only coughing into their elbow or tissues.

The researchers said that if hand cleanliness at all airports increased from 20% to 30%, the disease would have a global impact that is 24% smaller.

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Source: Metro News

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World’s oldest man, 112, says secret is to keep on smiling

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112-year-old Chitetsu Watanabe poses next to the calligraphy reading 'World's Number One' after being awarded as the world's oldest living male by Guinness World Records, in Joetsu, Niigata prefecture, northern Japan February 12, 2020, in this photo released by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT.
Sitting next to a sign saying ‘world’s number one’, Chitetsu Watanabe is almost 112 (Picture: Reuters)

A Japanese man with a sweet tooth who believes in smiles has become the world’s oldest male at 112 years and 344 days old, according to Guinness World Records.

Chitetsu Watanabe, who was born in Niigata in northern Japan in 1907, received a certificate for his accomplishment on Wednesday at a nursing home in the city. The previous record holder, Masazo Nonaka, another Japanese, died last month. The oldest living person is also Japanese, Kane Tanaka, a 117-year-old woman.

Until about a decade ago, Watanabe used to do bonsai, the Japanese traditional art of raising small sculpted trees, and had his work exhibited. These days, he loves desserts such as custards and cream puffs, Guinness said.

Watanabe graduated from agricultural school and then moved to Taiwan to work at Dai-Nippon Meiji Sugar on sugar cane plantation contracts.

112-year-old Chitetsu Watanabe celebrates after being awarded as the world's oldest living male by Guinness World Records, in Joetsu, Niigata prefecture, northern Japan February 12, 2020, in this photo released by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT.
He revealed that he has a sweet tooth and likes custards and cream puffs (Picture: Reuters)

He lived in Taiwan for 18 years. He married Mitsue and they had five children, Guinness said in a statement.

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After the end of World War II, Watanabe returned to Niigata and worked for the prefectural government until retirement. He also grew fruit and vegetables on the family farm.

Asked about the secret to longevity, Watanabe has this advice: Don’t get angry and keep smiling.

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Source: Metro News

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