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US Bans TikTok on All Government-Issued Devices Due to Concerns Around Connection with China

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In another concerning sign for TikTok, the US House of Representatives voted on Monday to have the app banned from all Government-issued devices, due to concerns around data collection and potential spying by Chinese authorities.

As reported by Politico:

“Lawmakers voted 336-71 to pass the proposal, offered by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), as part of a package of bipartisan amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act. The prohibition would extend to members of Congress and congressional staff.”

Rep. Buck, in his speech announcing the proposal, called TikTok a “serious national security threat”, once again underlining the app’s precarious position in the eyes of US authorities, which could, eventually, lead to a full ban of the platform in the US.

That would be a major blow – already, TikTok has lost its biggest user market outside China, with Indian authorities banning the app late last month amid ongoing border clashes between Chinese and Indian military. The US, which is also engaged in various trade disputes with China, has hinted that it too is considering a full ban of the app, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo telling Fox News that it is “looking at it” and considering its options.

US President Donald Trump Donald Trump has additionally noted that the US is considering a TikTok ban as punishment for the COVID-19 outbreak.

It’s a big business. Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they have done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful.

Trump said that banning TikTok was one of many options he’s considering to punish China over the pandemic.

Banning TikTok outright would be a big step, but it’s increasingly looking like it could happen, and if the US were to move to block the app, other nations would likely follow in-step. That could be a death blow for the rising video app.

In order to counter the swell of negative sentiment, TikTok has announced that it plans to add 10,000 jobs in the US over the next three years in order to further separate its operations from China, and manage its explosive US user growth.

As reported by Axios:

“TikTok’s US job growth has already nearly tripled this year, going from almost 500 employees Jan. 1st to just under 1,400. The company plans to hire for jobs in engineering, sales, content moderation and customer service, with a focus on growing workforces in California, New York, Texas, Florida and Tennessee.”

A key element within its current jobs growth has been lobbyists – as additionally reported by The New York Times, TikTok has already hired more than 35 lobbyists, who have been tasked with convincing the Trump administration and lawmakers that the company operates independently of China. 

That push, given this latest announcement from the House, is not working as yet – while as noted by tech analyst Ben Thompson, beyond the threat of stealing user data, and sharing it with the Chinese regime, TikTok could also be a concern with respect to distributing pro-China propaganda, and silencing controversial stories or opinions.

As noted by Thompson:

“TikTok’s algorithm, unmoored from the constraints of your social network or professional content creators, is free to promote whatever videos it likes, without anyone knowing the difference. TikTok could promote a particular candidate or a particular issue in a particular geography, without anyone – except perhaps the candidate, now indebted to a Chinese company – knowing.”

Thompson’s observations align with a report published by The Australian Strategic Policy Institute late last year, which labeled TikTok “a vector for censorship and surveillance”.

The combined concerns around the app threaten to derail its meteoric growth, and while TikTok itself continues to scramble for new ways to demonstrate its independence, many platform influencers are already diversifying their reach into other apps, as they look to protect their investment in building their audiences.

It’s difficult to say, based on what we know, whether TikTok will actually be banned, but the noise around the app is rising, and with it now banned on all Government and military-issued devices in the US, the concern is clearly very real.

How that influences your view of the platform will come down to personal perspective, but we would advise against building any significant reliance on TikTok for your promotions, at least at this stage.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Meta Could be Exploring Paid Blue Checkmarks on Facebook and Instagram

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Meta Could be Exploring Paid Blue Checkmarks on Facebook and Instagram

It seems like Elon Musk’s chaotic management approach at Twitter is having some broader impacts, with more companies reportedly considering lay-offs in the wake of Musk culling 70% of Twitter staff (and keeping the app running), and Meta now apparently also considering charging for blue checkmarks in its apps.

Yes, the Twitter Blue approach to making people pay for verification, which hasn’t proven overly popular on Twitter itself, is now also seemingly in consideration at Meta as well.

According to a new finding by reverse engineering pro Alessandro Paluzzi, there’s a new mention in the codebase of both Facebook and Instagram of a ‘paid blue badge’.

Paluzzi also shared a screenshot of the code with TechCrunch:

That does appear to refer to a subscription service for both apps, which could well give you a blue verification badge as a result.

Mets has neither confirmed nor denied the project, but it does seem, at least on the surface, that it’s considering offering checkmarks as another paid option – which still seems strange, considering the original purpose of verification, which is to signify noteworthy people or profiles in the app.

If people can just buy that, then it’s no longer of any value, right?

Evidently, that’s not the case, and with Twitter already bringing in around $7 million per quarter from Twitter Blue subscriptions, maybe Meta’s looking for a means to supplement its own intake, and make up for lost ad dollars and/or rising costs of its metaverse development.

It seems counter-intuitive, but I guess, if people will pay, and the platforms aren’t concerned about there being confusion as to what the blue ticks actually mean.

I guess, more money is good?

Meta has, in the past, said that it won’t charge a subscription fee to access its apps. But this, of course, would be supplemental – users wouldn’t have to pay, but they could buy a blue checkmark if they wanted, and use the implied value of recognition for their own purposes.

Which seems wrong, but tough times, higher costs – maybe every app needs to start digging deeper.

Meta hasn’t provided any info or confirmation at this stage, but we’ll keep you updated on any progress.



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YouTube Shorts Exceed 50B Daily Views, Meta’s Reels Doubles Plays 02/03/2023

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YouTube Shorts Exceed 50B Daily Views, Meta's Reels Doubles Plays 02/03/2023

YouTube Shorts and Meta’s Reels are both making
headway in the intensely competitive video shorts sector.  

During Alphabet’s Q4 earnings call on Thursday, CEO Sundar Pichai reported that YouTube Shorts has surpassed 50 billion
daily views. That’s up from the 30 billion reported in Q1 2022.

However, it still …



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Podcast Marketing Statistics for Businesses [Infographic]

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Podcast Marketing Statistics for Businesses [Infographic]

Podcasts have become an increasingly popular content format, providing on-demand, topical material covering virtually any subject that you can think of.

Indeed, according to estimates, over 130 million people will listen to podcasts monthly in the US this year, which could also provide significant opportunities for marketers to tap into this captive audience, and reach them with relevant ads and offers.

If you’re considering getting into podcasting or podcast advertising, this will help. The team from Spiralytics have put together a collection of podcast consumption stats and notes, which could help guide your thinking around the format.

Check out the full infographic below.

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