Saturday, March 2, 2024

WhatsApp Enhances Proxy Feature to Counter Internet Shutdowns


Meta's WhatsApp has recently introduced updates to its proxy feature, expanding the range of content that can be shared within conversations. The messaging service now allows users to send and receive images, voice notes, files, stickers, and GIFs, as confirmed by WhatsApp in a statement to The Hacker News. These new features were initially reported by BBC Persian.
The latest improvements include simplified setup steps to streamline the process, along with the introduction of shareable links. These links enable users to easily share functioning proxy addresses with their contacts, facilitating automatic installation.
Proxy server support was officially launched by WhatsApp in January, providing users with a means to bypass government-imposed censorship and internet shutdowns. By utilizing proxy servers, users can indirectly access WhatsApp even in regions where access is restricted.

To assist users in setting up their proxy servers, WhatsApp has made available a reference implementation. This implementation allows users to create a proxy server with ports 80, 443, or 5222 and a domain name that directs to the server's IP address.
"A proxy server acts as an intermediary gateway between WhatsApp and external servers," explained WhatsApp. "Users can search for trusted accounts on social media that regularly share verified proxy addresses, which can then be added to their WhatsApp accounts."
Internet shutdowns have become increasingly prevalent worldwide during times of crises, conflicts, communal violence, and even to prevent cheating in exams. In 2022, authorities in 35 countries implemented internet shutdowns a total of 187 times. Alarmingly, within the first five months of 2023, this number has already reached 80.
India, in particular, accounted for 84 shutdowns in 2022, maintaining its position as the leading democratic country enforcing deliberate internet restrictions for the fifth consecutive year.

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