Introducing Meta Verified: WhatsApp Business Users in Brazil, India, Indonesia and Colombia Now Have Access!

Meta Verified
Meta on Thursday said it is rolling out its Meta Verified program for WhatsApp Business users in Brazil, India, Indonesia and Colombia, and eventually to more countries. The plan also lets businesses use their WhatsApp Business account from multiple devices. Until now, WhatsApp Business users had to use their personal phone numbers to service customer calls. With more than 200 million monthly users on WhatsApp Business, Meta is trying to build a full suite of solutions that businesses can tap for communicating with their customers. The company said existing commerce and payment services only cater to the top 200 million users.

Google’s Improved NotebookLM, Enhanced by AI Technology, Launches in Over 200 Countries: India and UK Included

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Google on Thursday said it is rolling out NotebookLM, its AI-powered note-taking assistant, to over 200 new countries, nearly six months after opening its access in the U.S. The list of countries that NotebookLM now supports includes Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, and the U.K., as well as 208 other countries and territories. It uses AI to help generate summaries and answer questions from documents, transcripts, notes and other sources that users can upload. Some early users of NotebookLM in the U.S. anticipated it would support traditional note-taking apps, including Evernote and Google Keep. Gemini 1.5 Pro also lets NotebookLM have up to 50 sources in each notebook, with 500,000 words per source.

Amazon Acquires MX Player, a Leading Video Streaming Platform in India

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Amazon is acquiring some assets of MX Player, but not the entire firm, which also counts Tencent among its backers. TechCrunch reported in February last year that Amazon and MX Player were engaging for a deal. MX Player is especially popular among such demographic groups, and Amazon’s e-commerce service has long only been popular among the urban city consumers. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed it has agreed to purchase some assets of MX Player after publication of this story. Following the acquisition, Times Internet made strategic moves to transform MX Player from a local video playback app into a comprehensive video streaming platform.

Meta AI curtails political replies in India’s elections

Last week, Meta started testing its AI chatbot in India across WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger. Meta confirmed that it is restricting certain election-related keywords for AI in the test phase. When you ask Meta AI about specific politicians, candidates, officeholders, and certain other terms, it will redirect you to the Election Commission’s website. But just like other AI-powered systems, Meta AI has some inconsistencies. This week, the company rolled out a new Llama-3-powered Meta AI chatbot in more than a dozen countries, including the U.S., but India was missing from the list.

Efforts to Limit Mobile Payment Supremacy of PhonePe and Google in India

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UPI, built by a coalition of Indian banks, has become the most popular way Indians transact online, processing over 10 billion transactions monthly. In February, a parliamentary panel in India urged the government to support the growth of domestic fintech players that can offer alternatives to the Walmart-backed PhonePe and Google Pay apps. The NPCI has long advocated for limiting the market share of individual companies participating in the UPI ecosystem to 30%. The RBI is also weighing an incentive plan to create a more favorable competitive field for emerging UPI players, another person familiar with the matter said. Indian daily Economic Times separately reported Wednesday that the NPCI is encouraging fintech companies to offer incentives to their users, promoting the use of their respective apps for making UPI transactions.

Localized Integrations Launches for Google Wallet in India, Pay to Remain Unaffected

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That’s a different strategy from just about every other market, where Google has been merging Wallet and Pay experiences together under a single Wallet app. We’re continuing to invest in the Google Pay app to give people easy, secure access to digital payments,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. Then, it tried to replace the Wallet and its Android Pay app with Google Pay. In 2022, Google relaunched the Wallet app as its digital wallet platform for Android, Wear OS and Fitbit OS. However, in February this year, the search giant announced it would replace Google Pay with the Wallet app in the U.S.

Exploring Offending Generated Images on Instagram and Facebook: An Inquiry by Meta’s Oversight Committee

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The Oversight Board, Meta’s semi-independent policy council, it turning its attention to how the company’s social platforms are handling explicit, AI-generated images. Tuesday, it announced investigations into two separate cases over how Instagram in India and Facebook in the U.S. handled AI-generated images of public figures after Meta’s systems fell short on detecting and responding to the explicit content. In other words, after two reports, the explicit AI-generated image remained on Instagram. The second case relates to Facebook, where a user posted an explicit, AI-generated image that resembled a U.S. public figure in a Group focusing on AI creations. Meta’s response and the next stepsIn response to the Oversight Board’s cases, Meta said it took down both pieces of content.

Meta AI chatbot now being trialed for WhatsApp in India and globally

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WhatsApp is testing Meta AI, its large language model-powered chatbot, with users in India and some other markets, signalling its intentions to tap the massive user base to scale its AI offerings. The company recently began testing the AI chatbot, until now available in the U.S., with some users in India, many of them said. India, home to more than 500 million WhatsApp users, is the instant messaging service’s largest market. Meta unveiled Meta AI, its general-purpose assistant, in late September. The AI chatbot is designed to answer user queries directly within chats as well as offer them the ability to generate photorealistic images from text prompts.

Truecaller Debuts Web Client for Android Users

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Initially, the web version, called Truecaller for Web, will only be made available to Android users in India, the company said, but it plans to roll out the support in other territories in the future. All Truecaller for Android users in India can now link their devices to the web client on a PC or a Mac through a QR code. This is akin to linking the web version of a messenger like WhatsApp or Telegram. Now users will be able to look up numbers without any such limitations on the web client, the company said. Last month, it launched a “Max” feature update for Android users to block all calls from unapproved contacts or spam detected by AI.

Ola, the giant of Indian ride-hailing, withdraws from UK, Australia and NZ in a global retreat

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Indian ride-hailing giant Ola is shutting down its operations in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, six years after expanding to international markets as it shifts focus to shoring up its domestic business ahead of an initial public offering. An Ola spokesperson told TechCrunch that the SoftBank-backed ride-hailing startup sees “immense opportunity for expansion in India,” where it operates in hundreds of cities and offers a range of transportation options, including two-wheelers. “With this clear focus, we’ve reassessed our priorities and have decided to shut down our overseas ride-hailing business in its current form in the UK, Australia and New Zealand,” the spokesperson added. The startup plans to file for an initial public offering after the public listing of Ola Electric, the leading electric two-wheeler brand in India that spun out of Ola. Ola Electric is looking to raise $662 million from its IPO in India, according to paperwork it filed late last year.