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TikTok Banned for US Military Personnel as Questions Continue to Swirl Around the App



tiktok banned for us military personnel as questions continue to swirl around the app

One of the biggest social media news stories of the holiday break was the announcement that the US military has banned all of its personnel from using the Chinese-owned app TikTok on government-issued devices. The US Navy instituted a similar ban earlier in December. ​​

As per

The guidance directs all Defense Department employees to “be wary of applications you download, monitor your phones for unusual and unsolicited texts etc., and delete them immediately and uninstall TikTok to circumvent any exposure of personal information.”

The concern stems from TikTok’s exposure to the Chinese Government through parent company ByteDance – under China’s cybersecurity laws, all Chinese-owned companies must furnish Chinese government requests for user data on demand. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the Chinese government will request such, and TikTok has repeatedly noted that it doesn’t store American user data in China, limiting any potential exposure. But the lack of transparency around the Chinese regime, and its processes, continues to raise concerns, and may, eventually, force TikTok to drastically change its ownership profile, or risk losing out in certain markets.

The concerns from the US military make sense. Miltary and Navy crews are undertaking various covert operations at any given time, and data gleaned from TikTok usage could inadvertently expose the locations of such, leading to conflict. If the US military were, for example, monitoring Chinese activity in the South China Sea, a specific point of tension in recent times, that could be problematic – if the Chinese government did, in fact, request and/or access such data from ByteDance.

But should the same concerns relate to regular users of the app?

Clearly, there’s some level of issue with the potential of Chinese government interference – but really, what data does TikTok actually have? What could be gleaned about your own personal usage if such access were to be granted?

The problem here is more relative to scale than it is to case-by-case scenarios. You, personally, might not be concerned about sharing your details in the app – you may not consider it a big deal if a company or organization had access to your name, phone number, email address, etc. But with a large enough sample set, the data extracted by TikTok could reveal a lot – and Facebook’s recent data privacy issues highlight how, exactly, such can be misused.

For example, let’s say you have an active TikTok profile, and TikTok is recording what you watch, what you upload, along with your personal bio information, location data, etc. In itself, this may be harmless, but through your app usage, you’re creating a data profile which can be matched up with other users, and eventually, with enough correlating data points, trends begin to emerge. 

Back in 2015, The University of Cambridge and Stanford University examined the Facebook profiles of more than 86,000 users, and then matched their on-platform data against their psychological profiles, which those users had submitted through a ‘personality test’ app. Their key finding? Your Facebook activity data alone could indicate your psychological make-up more accurately than your friends, your family – better even than your partner, given enough info.

Facebook Cambridge study

The researchers were able to do this by matching up large data sets – one person watching videos from, say, Coca Cola, Nike, and liking content about dogs all might mean nothing, but over a large scale, those three trends could be highly indicative of anxiety or depression – or more liberal political leanings.

When you have a data set of millions – and worth noting, TikTok reportedly serves 26.5 million active US users, and has been downloaded 1.5 billion times worldwide – these trends become more indicative. It’s possible that, through such analysis, your TikTok usage could indeed reveal more about your personal leanings than you realize. What if, then, a political activist group wanted to use such insight to influence your opinion? What if the Chinese government, with access to such a database, wanted to influence western opinion among younger demographic groups about, say, the Hong Kong protests, or indeed, communism more broadly?

Your personal data, in itself, may not be a major concern, but potentially, there could be significant issue with such, if, as many suspect, the Chinese government could request, and get access to such insights, whenever it wanted.

But again, TikTok has repeatedly noted that this is not the case. An investigation last year found that TikTok had switched its data storage policies, and that no information from US users was, reportedly, stored in China, as of February 2019.

As per ByteDance:

“TikTok does not operate in China and that the government of the PRC has no access to TikTok users data. In the United States, TikTok is operated by our US entity.”

The distinction here is that ‘TikTok’, which was once known as, is actually not available in China, but an alternate, Chinese version of the same app, called ‘Douyin‘, is. The two apps are not the same, TikTok says, and TikTok’s information is held separately. 

So, nothing to worry about, right? TikTok data is not available to Chinese authorities, the databases are separate. We should be all good. Right?

The US military decision to ban access to the app shows that this is not yet the case, and while TikTok has again moved to reassure users with its first transparency report – which shows that no takedown requests have been received from China – while the company remains Chinese-owned, concerns will remain. And there’s probably not a lot that TikTok can do about it.

ByteDance has even floated the idea of moving its base of operations out of China completely in order to appease concerns, but even if it did, there’s no guarantee that such issues would go away. The isolationist and secretive nature of the Chinese government, and its links to any company operating within its borders, will always lead to a level of scrutiny. TikTok may be fine, there may be no real need for concern, we may all be able to watch and interact with fun, short video clips without issue. But the specter of data manipulation looms.

And in the wake of the 2016 US Presidential Election, and ahead of the upcoming US poll, that doesn’t look set to ease any time soon.

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This Week in Search News: Simple and Easy-to-Read Update



This Week in Search News: Simple and Easy-to-Read Update

Here’s what happened in the world of Google and search engines this week:

1. Google’s June 2024 Spam Update

Google finished rolling out its June 2024 spam update over a period of seven days. This update aims to reduce spammy content in search results.

2. Changes to Google Search Interface

Google has removed the continuous scroll feature for search results. Instead, it’s back to the old system of pages.

3. New Features and Tests

  • Link Cards: Google is testing link cards at the top of AI-generated overviews.
  • Health Overviews: There are more AI-generated health overviews showing up in search results.
  • Local Panels: Google is testing AI overviews in local information panels.

4. Search Rankings and Quality

  • Improving Rankings: Google said it can improve its search ranking system but will only do so on a large scale.
  • Measuring Quality: Google’s Elizabeth Tucker shared how they measure search quality.

5. Advice for Content Creators

  • Brand Names in Reviews: Google advises not to avoid mentioning brand names in review content.
  • Fixing 404 Pages: Google explained when it’s important to fix 404 error pages.

6. New Search Features in Google Chrome

Google Chrome for mobile devices has added several new search features to enhance user experience.

7. New Tests and Features in Google Search

  • Credit Card Widget: Google is testing a new widget for credit card information in search results.
  • Sliding Search Results: When making a new search query, the results might slide to the right.

8. Bing’s New Feature

Bing is now using AI to write “People Also Ask” questions in search results.

9. Local Search Ranking Factors

Menu items and popular times might be factors that influence local search rankings on Google.

10. Google Ads Updates

  • Query Matching and Brand Controls: Google Ads updated its query matching and brand controls, and advertisers are happy with these changes.
  • Lead Credits: Google will automate lead credits for Local Service Ads. Google says this is a good change, but some advertisers are worried.
  • tROAS Insights Box: Google Ads is testing a new insights box for tROAS (Target Return on Ad Spend) in Performance Max and Standard Shopping campaigns.
  • WordPress Tag Code: There is a new conversion code for Google Ads on WordPress sites.

These updates highlight how Google and other search engines are continuously evolving to improve user experience and provide better advertising tools.

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Facebook Faces Yet Another Outage: Platform Encounters Technical Issues Again




Facebook Problem Again

Uppdated: It seems that today’s issues with Facebook haven’t affected as many users as the last time. A smaller group of people appears to be impacted this time around, which is a relief compared to the larger incident before. Nevertheless, it’s still frustrating for those affected, and hopefully, the issues will be resolved soon by the Facebook team.

Facebook had another problem today (March 20, 2024). According to Downdetector, a website that shows when other websites are not working, many people had trouble using Facebook.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has had issues. Just a little while ago, there was another problem that stopped people from using the site. Today, when people tried to use Facebook, it didn’t work like it should. People couldn’t see their friends’ posts, and sometimes the website wouldn’t even load.

Downdetector, which watches out for problems on websites, showed that lots of people were having trouble with Facebook. People from all over the world said they couldn’t use the site, and they were not happy about it.

When websites like Facebook have problems, it affects a lot of people. It’s not just about not being able to see posts or chat with friends. It can also impact businesses that use Facebook to reach customers.

Since Facebook owns Messenger and Instagram, the problems with Facebook also meant that people had trouble using these apps. It made the situation even more frustrating for many users, who rely on these apps to stay connected with others.

During this recent problem, one thing is obvious: the internet is always changing, and even big websites like Facebook can have problems. While people wait for Facebook to fix the issue, it shows us how easily things online can go wrong. It’s a good reminder that we should have backup plans for staying connected online, just in case something like this happens again.

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We asked ChatGPT what will be Google (GOOG) stock price for 2030



We asked ChatGPT what will be Google (GOOG) stock price for 2030

Investors who have invested in Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) stock have reaped significant benefits from the company’s robust financial performance over the last five years. Google’s dominance in the online advertising market has been a key driver of the company’s consistent revenue growth and impressive profit margins.

In addition, Google has expanded its operations into related fields such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence. These areas show great promise as future growth drivers, making them increasingly attractive to investors. Notably, Alphabet’s stock price has been rising due to investor interest in the company’s recent initiatives in the fast-developing field of artificial intelligence (AI), adding generative AI features to Gmail and Google Docs.

However, when it comes to predicting the future pricing of a corporation like Google, there are many factors to consider. With this in mind, Finbold turned to the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT to suggest a likely pricing range for GOOG stock by 2030. Although the tool was unable to give a definitive price range, it did note the following:

“Over the long term, Google has a track record of strong financial performance and has shown an ability to adapt to changing market conditions. As such, it’s reasonable to expect that Google’s stock price may continue to appreciate over time.”

GOOG stock price prediction

While attempting to estimate the price range of future transactions, it is essential to consider a variety of measures in addition to the AI chat tool, which includes deep learning algorithms and stock market experts.

Finbold collected forecasts provided by CoinPriceForecast, a finance prediction tool that utilizes machine self-learning technology, to anticipate Google stock price by the end of 2030 to compare with ChatGPT’s projection.

According to the most recent long-term estimate, which Finbold obtained on March 20, the price of Google will rise beyond $200 in 2030 and touch $247 by the end of the year, which would indicate a 141% gain from today to the end of the year.

2030 GOOG price prediction: Source: CoinPriceForecast

Google has been assigned a recommendation of ‘strong buy’ by the majority of analysts working on Wall Street for a more near-term time frame. Significantly, 36 analysts of the 48 have recommended a “strong buy,” while seven people have advocated a “buy.” The remaining five analysts had given a ‘hold’ rating.

1679313229 737 We asked ChatGPT what will be Google GOOG stock price
Wall Street GOOG 12-month price prediction: Source: TradingView

The average price projection for Alphabet stock over the last three months has been $125.32; this objective represents a 22.31% upside from its current price. It’s interesting to note that the maximum price forecast for the next year is $160, representing a gain of 56.16% from the stock’s current price of $102.46.

While the outlook for Google stock may be positive, it’s important to keep in mind that some potential challenges and risks could impact its performance, including competition from ChatGPT itself, which could affect Google’s price.

Disclaimer: The content on this site should not be considered investment advice. Investing is speculative. When investing, your capital is at risk.

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