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TikTok Looks to Reassure US Authorities that US User Data is Not Being Shared with the CCP

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TikTok Updates Ad Policies to Limit Unwanted Exposure Among Younger Users in Europe

After an FCC Commissioner called on Apple and Google to ban TikTok from their app stores last week, due to concerns that the app could be used as a surveillance tool, of sorts, by the Chinese Government, TikTok has sought to reassure US users that their data is safe.

As explained by TikTok:

“The security of the data our community entrusts us with is a top priority at TikTok, despite recent reports questioning that commitment. We have sent a letter to Congress addressing these issues and others, and also want to share with our community the steps we take to secure our US user data, as well as where we’re headed in our commitment to keeping US user data safe, private, and secure.”

TikTok points to its recent system updates, which now see all of its US user data routed through Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, keeping more US user data within the US, while it’s also developing its US-based engineering capacity in order to reduce the need for data transfers across regions.

“As we recently shared with members of Congress, we are working toward a new system in which access to US user data by anyone outside of USDS will be limited by, and subject to, robust data access protocols with monitoring and oversight mechanisms by Oracle.”

Though right now, TikTok says that some Chinese staff from parent company ByteDance can access US user data, in limited capacity.

“Like many global companies, TikTok has engineering teams around the world – including in Mountain View, London, Dublin, Singapore, and China – and those teams might need access to data for engineering functions that are specifically tied to their roles. That access is subject to a series of robust controls, safeguards like encryption for certain data, and authorization approval protocols overseen by our US-based leadership/security team. To facilitate those approvals, we also have an internal data classification system; the level of approval required for access is based on the sensitivity of the data according to the classification system.”

So theoretically, US user data is accessible, in some form, by TikTok’s China-based staff, which could be a security vulnerability, under China’s strict cybersecurity laws. But TikTok’s working to assure US users, and authorities, that such access is very limited, and does not pose a risk, as such, based on how that information could be used.

Will that be enough to stave off another round of scrutiny on the app?

A lot of that will largely depend on the actions of the CCP, which is at odds with the US, and other governments, on several major fronts at present.

The Chinese Government has thus far refused to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the most significant world power to withhold its judgment on Russia’s military action, while China has also been encroaching on Taiwan’s borders in a show of force, which has seen the US offer strong support for Taiwan, in case of further action.

Such tensions raise the specter of even greater conflict, and as China continues to build its military forces, and establish new naval bases in the South Pacific, that underlying concern continues to reiterate questions about TikTok, and what its massive data trove could be used for in case of further escalation.

To be clear, there is no evidence that the CCP has called upon TikTok to share US user data in any capacity, and it may never do so, while TikTok’s advanced measures to separate region-specific data do go some way towards alleviating concerns.

But while China remains at odds with the rest of the world on several key fronts, there will always be questions as to how TikTok might end up caught in the middle, which, like India, could see it cut off from other regions as a result.

TikTok further notes that it’s created a new division called ‘US Data Security (USDS)’ – ‘to bring heightened focus and governance to our ongoing efforts to strengthen our data protection policies and protocols’. But again, none of this will matter if the Chinese Government continues its various stand-offs with other regions. And if tensions escalate, even a little, that could well be disastrous for TikTok’s growth plans.

Because if the US were to decide to ban TikTok, other regions would follow, while if Apple and/or Google decided to remove the app, all regions would be cut off anyway.

It seems unlikely, right now, that TikTok could be banned entirely, based on current conditions. But things can change quickly, and the latest concerns underline the continued scrutiny of the app.

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Twitter Blue Subscribers Can Now Post Tweets Up to 4,000 Characters Long

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Twitter Blue Subscribers Can Now Post Tweets Up to 4,000 Characters Long

So, this is a thing…

Twitter has rolled out longer tweets to Twitter Blue subscribers in the US, with paying users now able to post tweets up to 4,000 characters in length.

If anyone needed or wanted that.

Longer tweets will be displayed in the main feed at standard length, with a ‘Show more…’ indicator pointing users to the remainder of the content.

Honestly, it’s sadly ironic that not even Twitter could come up with a good use of the extra characters in its example, but yes, Twitter Blue users – all 300,000 of them – will now be able to post super long rants about whatever they choose in the app.

As explained by Twitter:

“[Twitter Blue users] can also compose longer Tweets in a Quote Tweet or reply. Standard functionality like posting media, creating polls, and using hashtags still apply. Everyone will be able to read longer Tweets, but only Blue subscribers can create them.

I don’t know if anyone requested this, but Twitter 2.0 chief Elon Musk seems convinced that by enabling users to post long-form content, that will eventually open up new avenues to monetization, and will see more top voices posting more stuff to the app.

I mean, the recent Twitter Files are probably the best example – Elon’s hand-picked team of journalists have been trawling through Twitter’s archives to uncover accusations of corruption and Government meddling, all ended up posting their findings in ridiculously long tweet threads in the app.

It would make more sense to post them on a more long-form focused format, but Musk obviously wants all the attention on Twitter – and in instances like this, maybe having longer tweets could be valuable.

But I don’t know.

It also seems short-sighted to only provide this functionality to Twitter Blue users. As noted, only a small fraction of Twitter’s 250 milllion total user base is paying for a blue tick, and while Twitter is now expanding the offering into new markets, it’s hard to see it catching on in any real way.

That means that a lot of the most popular creators won’t even be able to use the option, which seems counterintuitive. But then again, Elon will probably look to add in a new monetization element, which you have to pay up to qualify for, which is probably his broader view for limiting access at this stage.

Who knows – maybe it ends up being amazing, and maybe it makes it way easier to post what would have been multi-tweet threads in a more engaging, interesting way in the app.

It’s different, for sure, very different from Twitter’s usual offering.



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Growth Stock Surges On Ad Fraud Discovery, Analyst Upgrade

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Growth Stock Surges On Ad Fraud Discovery, Analyst Upgrade

Ad data and analytics provider DoubleVerify (DV) is building the right side of a cup base with a buy point of 32.53. The growth stock is today’s selection for IBD 50 Stocks to Watch.




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DoubleVerify has a strong Composite Rating of 94 and a Relative Strength Rating of 89. Its stellar EPS Rating of 96 is even better.

Company sales grew 35% to $112.3 million in the third quarter while earnings per share of 6 cents grew 20% from the previous year.

On Jan. 10, analysts at Barclays upgraded the stock to overweight from equal weight with a price target of 29. Shares gapped up over 6% on the news, and the move helped the stock start its recovery from the January low.

Growth Stock Surges After Finding Fraud Scheme

DoubleVerify helps advertising companies that target users on video, mobile, and social media platforms. The company also has an analytics side that provides data on consumer engagement.

The digital media analytics platform ensures that ads reach their target customers in a safe way. This means that ads reach actual people with the right context. The software also has tools to adapt ads to different devices.

Its technology also seeks to address ad fraud. On Thursday, the company discovered “BeatSting,” the first large-scale ad-impression fraud scheme that targeted audio ads.

DV Fraud Lab first identified the fraud scheme in 2019, which is largely responsible for advertisers losing $20 million in several scams, according to reports. DoubleVerify was credited for unveiling the fraud. Shares last Thursday surged nearly 4% in strong volume.

Deals With Twitter, LinkedIn, Meta, Facebook

The company has partnered with leading social media and mobile platforms like LinkedIn and TikTok to improve ad impact and experience. DoubleVerify has a long-standing relationship with Facebook parent Meta Platforms (META). The social media platform faced a massive boycott in 2020 when several companies removed their ads due to concerns over their brand safety.

In June of last year, DoubleVerify brought features that will allow marketers to see where their ads appear in a user’s timeline. The feature uses artificial-intelligence tools to understand the context in which ads appear. The feature also enhanced brand safety  and attracted Twitter and other social media platforms to try it out. Nonetheless, marketers did not buy in entirely, according to reports, as Twitter’s ad revenue continued to struggle.

The growth stock ranks second in the specialty enterprise software group. The stock went public in April 2021. The New York-based company has locations in the U.S., U.K., Europe, Asia, Australia and South America.

Mutual funds own 39% of shares outstanding. That may not seem like much, but more funds have been picking up the growth stock over the past eight quarters, according to MarketSmith. The stock has an Accumulation/Distribution Rating of B-.

Exchange traded funds hold shares of DoubleVerify as well. The Invesco S&P Small Cap Information Technology ETF (PSCT) and the SPDR FactSet Innovative Technology ETF (XITK) own DV.

Please follow VRamakrishnan on Twitter @IBD_VRamakrishnan for more news on growth stocks.

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YouTube Will Now Enable Brands to Buy Specific Time Slots Around Major Events for Masthead Ads

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YouTube Will Now Enable Brands to Buy Specific Time Slots Around Major Events for Masthead Ads

YouTube has added a new time targeting element to its Masthead Ads, which will enable brands to display their promotions in key times leading up to key events.

As explained by YouTube:

In a time of multiple screens and countless ways to stay entertained, it can be challenging to get your audience’s attention. But even with so much content available at any time, people are drawn to moments they can experience together: a new movie release, a big game, a product launch, a holiday. And these are key opportunities to connect with a brand. Marketers, you know this well: you center advertising campaigns around the tentpole moments most likely to inspire your audience, shift perceptions or influence a purchase decision.”

YouTube’s Cost-Per-Hour Masthead enables brands to own the most prominent placement in the app during the hour(s) leading up to, during or after priority moments.

For example:

“[During the recent World Cup], McDonald’s Brazil turned to the YouTube Cost-Per-Hour Masthead. Their strategy was savvy: reach anyone in Brazil who was watching YouTube an hour before the Brazil vs. Cameroon match and remind them to pick up McDonald’s before the game started. This perfectly timed execution delivered tens of millions of impressions at the very moment fans were preparing for the match.

It could be a good way to hook into key moments, and build momentum for your campaigns, while also establishing association with key events and subjects.

“Just a few weeks ago, Xiaomi, the leading smartphone manufacturer in India, prepared to launch their highly anticipated Redmi Note 12 series via YouTube livestream. To drive viewership, Xiaomi ran the Cost-Per-Hour Masthead during the event. Not only did this activation drive scaled awareness, it led to over 90,000 concurrent livestream views. The Redmi Note 12 went on to generate a record number of first-week sales, making it one of their most successful launches to date.

It’s an expansive, but potentially significant targeting option, which could hold appeal for big brands looking to make a big splash around major events and releases.

You can learn more about YouTube’s Cost-Per-Hour Masthead process here.

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