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TikTok Responds to Possible US Ban: “We’re Not Planning on Going Anywhere”

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Are we close to saying goodbye to TikTok?

On Friday evening, speaking to the press pool, US President Donald Trump said that TikTok would soon be banned in the US, sparking an outpouring of emotional responses from the app’s users, and a major surge in downloads of alternate video apps.

The speculation prompted a response from TikTok, with US General Manager Vanessa Pappas posting this video message:

TikTok additionally issued this official response:

These are the facts: 100 million Americans come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, especially during the pandemic. We’ve hired nearly 1,000 people to our US team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the US. Our $1 billion creator fund supports US creators who are building livelihoods from our platform. TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.”

This is in line with TikTok’s more recent push to underline its benefit to the US economy – at a time when jobs are shrinking due to the impacts of COVID-19, TikTok is looking to invest, it’s looking to build while most are doing the opposite. The US Government can’t say no to that, right? 

But then again, the proposed ban is not about that – the Trump administration is either concerned about potential spying by the Chinese Government, or its looking to enact a form of punishment against China for the COVID-19 outbreak.

Which is the bigger consideration is something of a moot point, as the outcome is largely the same, but it is interesting to note the various elements at play within the wider debate around the app’s future.

There are also a couple of key notes worth highlighting in TikTok’s statement. First off, as per TikTok itself, the platform currently sees around 100 million active users. That’s a significant amount, but the figure that you more commonly see presented in relation to TikTok is total downloads. TikTok reached 2 billion total downloads earlier this year, but it’s worth pointing out that total downloads and total users are completely different things. Downloads, in some ways, reflect popularity, but 100 million active users is far less than Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. Even Vine had double that amount at its peak.

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TikTok is growing, and it is significant, but the impression many have is that it’s bigger than it is due to the focus on total download stats. This is a relevant note in measuring its cultural impact.

But the most important thing to take away from TikTok’s statement is this:

TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access.”

What TikTok doesn’t, and can’t say: “TikTok user data cannot be accessed by the Chinese Government”.

TikTok can’t say this, because it can be – under China’s cybersecurity laws, the CCP can request internal data from any Chinese-owned company for the benefit of the republic. TikTok can’t escape this, which is why it’s being put under pressure to separate its operations from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance – which, following Trump’s threat to ban it, it is now willing to do. It’s unclear if that will appease the Trump administration enough to allow it to keep running in the US.

As noted, it’s also unclear exactly what the main purpose of Trump’s ban threat is. Earlier this month, Trump said that he was considering banning TikTok as a form of punishment against China for COVID-19.

As per Trump:

“[TikTok is] a big business. Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they’ve done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful.”

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Trump said that banning TikTok was one of “many options” that he was considering to hit back at Beijing over what he perceives as a failure on its part to contain the virus. In which case, it’s not even about the company’s Chinese Government links – though US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has additionally noted that any move to ban the app would be in order “to deny the Chinese Communist Party access to the private information that belongs to Americans”.

Some have speculated that Trump’s latest threat is actually a bullying tactic – as per Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs.

The most likely partner in this respect, according to reports, could be Microsoft, which is weighing an acquisition of the short-form video app. Which seems like an odd fit, but it would put TikTok wholly into US ownership, which may also please President Trump as it would essentially be stopping any US-originated revenue from heading back to a Chinese organization.

It depends, then, what the actual motivations for a TikTok ban actually are, and how the White House considers TikTok’s moves to address the concerns. 

Will TikTok be banned? No one knows for sure, but certainly, it could happen. And if the US bans it, it’s not hard to imagine other western nations may follow suit. 

Socialmediatoday.com

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Instagram Tests Out New Ad Options, Including Explore Placement and Interactive AR Displays

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Instagram Tests Out New Ad Options, Including Explore Placement and Interactive AR Displays

As we head into the holiday shopping push, Instagram has announced that it’s testing out some new ad options, in the hopes of maximizing its revenue intake, while also providing new opportunities for brands.

Though I can’t imagine that these will be entirely popular additions with users.

First off, Instagram’s adding new ads into Explore, with the first page of Explore now set to feature a new ad unit in the content feed.

As you can see in this example, that’s a pretty big ad. Instagram hasn’t clarified if all of these new Explore ads will be featured as prominently as this, but the option will provide another means to reach IG users ‘in the earliest stages of discovering new content they care about’.

It could be a good consideration, with a chance to get your products featured in the main discovery feed in the app.

Instagram’s also testing ads in profile feed – ‘which is the feed experience that people can scroll through after visiting another account’s profile and tapping on a post’.

So now, if you check out someone’s profile, and tap on a post, you’ll also be eligible to be served ads in that dedicated stream of their content, essentially inserting ads into another surface in the app.

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Instagram’s also looking into whether this option could also be used as a monetization opportunity for creators, as that activity will be tied back to an individual profile and content.

Instagram’s also testing what it’s calling ‘Multi-Advertiser Ads’, which will display more promotions from similar businesses to users after they’ve engaged with an ad.

Instagram ad updates

As per Instagram:

“When a person expresses commercial intent by engaging with an ad, we deliver more ads from other businesses that may be of interest, powered by machine learning.”

So Instagram’s looking to push even more related businesses at you, stacking ads upon ads. I don’t know how effective that will be, but in theory, it could get your brand in front of interested users based on previous ad engagement.

Finally, Instagram’s also launched an open beta of its AR Ads, which will be available in both feed and Stories in the app.

Instagram ads update

As you can see here, Instagram’s AR ads, built in its Spark AR platform, will invite users to interact with their ad content, which could also include positioning virtual furniture in their home, or test driving a car in the app.

Which Meta also says will help brands align with future engagement shifts:

“By giving businesses tools to create more personalized and immersive experiences today we’ll help them drive performance and prepare for the metaverse.”

I mean, AR and the metaverse, which is largely VR-based (going on the examples we’ve seen thus far) are not the same thing, but the creation of 3D objects will play a part in that next stage, and could help to advance your thinking on ad approaches.

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These are some interesting ad considerations, but they’ll also see a lot more promotions being squeezed into your Instagram feeds, which, as noted, likely won’t be welcomed by users.

But with parent company Meta under rising pressure, Instagram has to do its part. And while leaning into further Reels, and forcing in more ads, may not be a great play, long-term, the usage and engagement data will ultimately tell the tale.



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