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TikTok May Still Face Restrictions in the US, as Final Details of Proposed Oracle Deal are Ironed Out



It seems TikTok may not be out of the woods just yet, with various conflicting stories around the pending Oracle/TikTok deal.

On Saturday, US President Donald Trump told reporters that he had given the Oracle-lead deal for TikTok’s operations in the US ‘his blessing‘, which was enough for TikTok to put out two official statements about the app being ‘here to stay‘.

The President’s verbal approval seemed to be the final step in the negotiation process – but then, on Sunday, following an official statement from TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, things got a little murkier on the specifics of the proposed deal.

First off, ByteDance clarified that it will not be transferring algorithms and/or technologies to Oracle, or any other US company, as part of the deal.

As per ByteDance:

“The current plan does not involve the transfer of any algorithms and technologies. Oracle has the authority to check the source code of TikTok USA.”

So Oracle and its consortium partners will be able to use the source code as a reference point, but going on this statement, it seems that they will need to develop a new, unique algorithm for the platform – which could be problematic.

TikTok’s algorithm, which keeps users glued to the app, is seen as a key component of the platform’s success, and if Oracle, which has no social media experience, is forced to re-write or re-create is own version, that could have major impacts on its performance.

ByteDance is restricted in what it can transfer in this regard due to China’s new laws on the transfer of technology, including algorithms, in foreign trade deals, but the initial understanding was that by having ByteDance retain ownership of the platform, Oracle and Co. would be able to essentially license the source code, which would meet the legal requirements in this respect. That may not be the case.


And that’s just the first potential stumbling block for the new deal.

In addition to this, ByteDance also said that it was not aware of President Trump’s claim that it would be investing $5 billion into a new US education fund as part of the agreement.

President Trump touted the $5 billion investment as a key element in the deal. When originally announcing the Government’s action against TikTok, President Trump had called for the US Treasury to receive some form of payment for facilitating the eventual takeover deal, but transferring direct compensation to the government from commercial arrangements is not possible under US law. The $5 billion education fund seemed like a way to indirectly meet this request. Trump reportedly plans to use the funding to create a new ‘patriotic education commission’ to help re-establish national pride and identity.

But ByteDance says that it’s not paying it – which means it must be coming from somewhere else.

This, apparently, is another element that’s still being ironed out.

But the biggest potential stumbling block for the Oracle/TikTok deal thus far came on Monday, when President Trump stated that he would not be approving any deal for TikTok if its Chinese ownership did not fully sell its interest in the product.

As reported by The New York Times:

“Asked about reports that TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, would still own 80% of the service after the deal, Mr. Trump said that they would “have nothing to do with it, and if they do we just won’t make the deal.”


The current arrangement, as per reports, would see Oracle and Walmart take a 20% stake in a new ‘TikTok Global’ entity, which would be separated from ByteDance and launch as a new, independent company sometime in the new year.

That, according to reports, should be enough to meet the requirements of the US Government in separating the app, but the understanding many have reported is that ByteDance would still remain the majority owner of TikTok Global, at least for some time. Which may not be the case – and if ByteDance has no stake, and it’s not sharing its algorithms, that could also spell trouble for the future of the app in the US. If, of course, this is how the final deal ends up being constructed.

So, right now, TikTok is still under a cloud. The US Department of Commerce has extended its deadline for the removal of the app from US app stores by a week, so negotiators have a few more days to sort out the final details in order to get a deal through before it sees any impacts. But the depth of these potential concerns is significant, and not only for the immediate future of the app, but in the longer term as well.

If Oracle, for example, has to re-write TikTok’s algorithms, will that ruin the app? If ByteDance is forced out completely, earlier than expected, will that make the transition more rushed? 

We still have at least a week of negotiations to come on the deal.



Brand creatives: The forgotten workers struggling with burnout



Brand creatives: The forgotten workers struggling with burnout

Photo by Tim Gouw / Unsplash

The demand for quality content continues to rise and this is putting an added stress on creators. Analysts are predicting this year to be the longest selling season seen for many years. This presents little reprieve for creators.

While businesses everywhere are focused on work/life balance, that’s a luxury most creators do not have. Recently, Digital Journal posted an article about ‘hustle culture’ and the dangers this presents to employees in the long-term. Central to these concerns was burnout. Yet burnout is also an issue for the sell-employed and within this category, those working in the creative arts standout.

Social Media Creatives are people who carve out creative posts which are intended to be shared by a brand on their social media platforms, designed to help the brand to reach out more fully to their target audience.

Creator burnout encroaches on creator wellness, which is not only a threat to the creator, but also to brands and ultimately the consumer.

The extent of the problem is captured by Awin, an affiliate and influencer marketing platform. The company conducted a survey on creator burnout and this uncovered some telling information.

For example, 66 percent of creators indicated that burnout is affecting their mental health . The likelihood of this is related to the platform used. Here, Instagram is the leading platform driving burnout with 71 percent of respondents experiencing at least some level of burnout.


Another source of emotional strain is with constant platform changes. These were cited by the survey respondents as the leading cause of anxiety amongst 72 percent of respondents. Another area scoring high, with  64 percent of people, relates to a lack of quality and creativity. In turn this creates pressures, for 53 percent of the survey admitted their passion for content creation has decreased in the past year.

Pressure of work are manifest in the need to be only for prolonged periods of time. Hence other reasons for burnout included never turning off social media, the pressure of losing followers, and the pressure of earning a paycheck. These pressures are driving just under half (49 percent) of people to rely on alternative income streams to alleviate the stress and anxiety.

Although there are no ideal coping mechanisms, measures like dedicating specific times for posting and scheduling time off can help.

Commenting on the findings, Carissa Finders, Influencer Partnerships Manager, Awin Group tells Digital Journal: “There is a clear pattern of burnout among creators and many feel there is little support from social platforms to help them cope.”

This support, says Finders, should be led by brands, noting: “In order to combat the anxiety and burnout, brands will need to work closely with creators to develop the best resources for them to passionately create and engage their audiences. Our goal in working with our creators is to facilitate these brand partnerships to make sure the creation and execution of influencer campaigns continues to be as smooth as possible for both parties.”

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