CIO SA tech news round-up: WhatsApp launches message-editing feature, Meta fined €1.2 billion, and Microsoft releases big updates to Bing and ChatGPT

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WhatsApp launches a feature to allow users to edit messages within 15 minutes, Meta has been fined €1.2 billion (R25 billion) for transferring EU user data to the US, and Microsoft launches a slew of AI upgrades this week.

Microsoft releases big updates to Bing and ChatGPT

This week, Microsoft began making a slew of AI updates available to consumers, including improvements to ChatGPT, its search engine Bing, and cloud services – a broad rollout aimed at closing the AI gap with Google.

Among the most significant modifications is the addition of live search results from Bing to ChatGPT, the viral chatbot from its partner OpenAI, whose answers were previously limited to information as of 2021.

ChatGPT can now pull web results from Bing for paid members and will soon do so for free users, according to the company’s annual Microsoft Build conference.

The corporation is also extending so-called Bing plug-ins, which use a standard adopted by OpenAI and allow businesses to deal more easily with consumers using its search engine.

According to Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s consumer chief marketing officer, one such application can provide a web surfer looking for dinner ideas with a proposed meal and ingredients that can then be delivered from Instacart in a single click. “This is a profound change to how people will use the web,” he said in an interview.

When asked if Microsoft might sell ad placements related to the plug-ins, Mehdi said the business hasn't gotten to that point yet, but that the model for how people acquire customers is changing.

WhatsApp launches feature to allow users to edit messages within 15 minutes

WhatsApp, the messaging application owned by Meta, has launched a feature allowing users to edit a message – as long as they do so within 15 minutes of sending it.

WhatsApp claims the editing capability is now available to select users and will be available to all users in the coming weeks, including its more than two billion users in 180 countries. Tweaked messages will have an “edited” label, similar to those found in other communication systems such as Slack.

“For the moments when you make a mistake, or simply change your mind, you can now edit your sent messages. From correcting a simple misspelling to adding extra context to a message, we’re excited to bring you more control over your chats. All you need to do is long-press on a sent message and choose ‘Edit’ from the menu for up to 15 minutes after.

“Edited messages will display ‘edited’ alongside them, so those you’re messaging are aware of the correction without showing edit history. As with all personal messages, media and calls, your messages and the edits you make are protected by end-to-end encryption. This feature has started rolling out to users globally and will be available to everyone in the coming weeks,” WhatsApp said in a blog post.

Meta fined €1.2 billion for mishandling data

In a key judgement against the social media website for violating EU data protection standards, Facebook's owners, Meta, were fined a record €1.2 billion euros (R25 billion) this week, and told to stop transmitting data obtained from Facebook users in Europe to the US.

The punishment, announced by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, might be one of the most significant in the five years since the EU passed the landmark General Data Protection Regulation. According to regulators, Facebook failed to comply with a 2020 judgement by the EU’s highest court that Facebook data transferred over the Atlantic was not sufficiently safeguarded from American espionage agencies.

However, it is unclear whether or whether Meta will ever need to encrypt the data of Facebook users in Europe. Meta announced that it would appeal the ruling, launching a potentially protracted judicial procedure.

Simultaneously, European UnionEU and American officials are negotiating a new data-sharing agreement that would provide legal protections for Meta and dozens of other companies to continue moving information between the US and Europe – a pact that could overturn much of the European Union’s ruling on Monday. Last year, a tentative agreement was announced.

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