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ByteDance Names Current Company CFO Shouzi Chew as the New CEO of TikTok

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So after all the efforts of the US Government to force TikTok to detach itself from its Chinese roots, after the threats of a full ban on the app unless it was sold into US ownership, after various court cases challenging and defending the US Government’s ruling.

After all of this, the single outcome of that entire process, the only thing that’s actually happened in response, is that TikTok has lost a US-based CEO and appointed one from its Chinese parent company instead.

Which seems somewhat ironic, really.

Today, TikTok has announced that current ByteDance CFO Shouzi Chew has been appointed as the new CEO of TikTok. Chew will succeed former Disney exec Kevin Mayer, who lasted around 3 months in the role, before leaving in August last year in the midst of the platform’s stoush with the Trump Administration. 

At the time, it seemed as though Mayer wanted to avoid the potential negative fallout from the company’s ongoing battle with the US Government, but Mayer has since explained that he left because it did indeed seem that a full sale of TikTok was imminent.

As explained by Mayer (to CNBC):

“It did look as if that was a serious ruling by the CFIUS guys, that it had to be divested, and it was going to be divested. The fact is, the job that I signed up for was going to be gone, and I didn’t want to go run a division of Microsoft or Oracle.”

Microsoft and Oracle, of course, were the leading candidates to acquire TikTok at that time, but the deal, in the end, didn’t end up going ahead. TikTok managed to delay a final ruling through repeated (and costly) legal challenges to the US Government’s order, which meant that the final decision was pushed back till after the US Election. Which then put TikTok’s fate largely in the hands of US voters. If Trump was returned, there was a good chance that he would continue to push for TikTok’s full separation from China.

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But with a Biden victory, that meant a fresh set of eyes to look at the TikTok deal. And while the Biden admin is still, reportedly, weighing if and how it tackles security concerns related to TikTok, and the potential that it could share data on US citizens with the CCP, right now, it seems like the push to separate TikTok from its Chinese ownership is off the cards. Which, as noted means that the company has continued unimpacted by the challenge.

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And now, it’s appointed a ByteDance exec into the top job at the company.

That also, of course, will mean a change in role for interim head of TikTok Vanessa Pappas, who stepped into the top job to replace Mayer in a temporary capacity. Recognizing her efforts, Pappas will now become the COO of the company, advancing from her previous title as general manager before the acquisition saga.

Pappas has helped guide the company through an incredibly challenging transition period, which has also incorporated the COVID-19 pandemic, and many legal and regulatory challenges, in several regions, as the app expands throughout the world.

Pappas has also had to face a slew of challengers rising up for the app, with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat all adding TikTok clone functionalities over the past 12 months. 

Now Pappas moves into a role more aligned with her skills and experience, with Chew taking on the more CEO-type responsibilities involved with expansion of the app.

And for clarity, while Chew is currently the CFO at ByteDance, he is actually based in Singapore, so that could lessen the concerns around ongoing linkage with the Chinese Government.

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But probably not. The issue that regulatory authorities have is that under China’s cybersecurity laws, any Chinese-owned company has to share user data with the CCP, on request. Whether such a request has been, or will ever be made, we don’t know, but if a request for such did come through, under the law, as it’s constructed, TikTok would, theoretically, have to comply, putting all of TikTok’s user info, on millions of people around the world, into the Chinese Government’s hands.

TikTok has tried to reassure authorities that this won’t happen, repeatedly noting that it would not share foreign user data with the Chinese Government, while ByteDance also, at one stage, tried to say that it was now ‘a Cayman Islands-based business‘, not a Chinese one, as it was now incorporated in the tax haven. 

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But it does still seem that its links to China remain strong, which will maintain those concerns.

And as the Chinese regime continues to exert its power, in various global conflicts and relations, those tensions, and issues, will remain.

Whether that will be enough for the new US administration to take a harsher view of TikTok itself, we’ll have to wait and see.

Socialmediatoday.com

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New Screenshots Highlight How Snapchat’s Coming ‘Family Center’ Will Work

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New Screenshots Highlight How Snapchat's Coming 'Family Center' Will Work

Snapchat’s parental control options look close to launch, with new screenshots based on back-end code showing how Snap’s coming ‘Family Center’ will look in the app.

As you can see in these images, shared by app intelligence company Watchful (via TechCrunch), the Family Center will enable parents to see who their child is engaging with in the app, along with who they’ve added, who they’re following, etc.

That could provide a new level of assurance for parents – though it could also be problematic for Snap, which has become a key resource for more private, intimate connection, with its anti-public posting ethos, and disappearing messages, helping to cement its place as an alternative to other social apps.

That’s really how Snap has embedded its niche. While other apps are about broadcasting your life to the wider world, Snap is about connecting with a small group of friends, where you can share your more private, secret thoughts, without concern of them living on forever, and coming back to bite you at a later stage.

That also, of course, means that more questionable, dangerous communications are happening in the app. Various reports have investigated how Snap is used for sending lewd messages, and arranging hook-ups, while drug dealers reportedly now use Snap to organize meet-ups and sales.

Which, of course, is why parents will be keen to get more insight into such, but I can’t imagine Snap users will be so welcoming of an intrusive tool in this respect.

But if parents know that it exists, they may have to, and that could be problematic for Snap. Teen users will need to accept their parents’ invitation to enable Family Center monitoring, but you can see how this could become an issue for many younger users in the app.

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Still, the protective benefits may well be worth it, with random hook-ups and other engagements posing significant risks. And with kids as young as 13 able to create a Snapchat account, there are many vulnerable youngsters engaging in the app.

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But it could reduce Snap’s appeal, as more parents become aware of the tool.

Snapchat hasn’t provided any further insight into the new Family Center, or when it will be released, but it looks close to launch based on these images.  

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