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White House Gives TikTok Till September 15th to Sell its Business: Here’s What You Need to Know



What an eventful weekend for the team at TikTok HQ.

To recap the current situation – earlier this month, following the Indian Government’s decision to ban all Chinese apps, including TikTok, in its nation amid ongoing border battles with Chinese forces, US President Donald Trump said that he too was considering banning the app as part of punishment for the COVID-19 outbreak.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later clarified that the Government was indeed considering banning the app, but less so as a form of punishment, and more due to concerns that it could be used as both a surveillance and propaganda tool for the Chinese regime. That concern is not unfounded, with TikTok’s parent company ByteDance having in the past worked with the CCP to moderate anti-government content and distribute pro-China material within its apps. 

TikTok has been under investigation on this front for some time, and two weeks after the initial suggestion of a possible ban by President Trump, the US House of Representatives voted to have the app banned from all Government-issued devices, due to the same concerns. TikTok is already banned on all military-issued devices in the US, UK and Australia because of its potential for data tracking.

And then, last weekend happened.

On Friday, reports emerged that Microsoft was reportedly considering an acquisition of TikTok in a bid to separate the app from its Chinese ownership, and quell the ongoing questions about its data-sharing obligations to the CCP. Then late Friday evening, when speaking to the press on Air Force One, President Trump said that he would be moving to ban the app in the US, likely within days.

That set off panic among TikTok creators, with downloads of alternate video apps spiking, while conspiracy theories about the Trump administration’s motivations for a ban flooding the app. 

Was Trump serious? Could he actually institute a ban?

It’s difficult to say, on both fronts, but in theory, he could sign an Executive Order banning TikTok. There are legal complications within such a ruling, and any ban on the basis of potential surveillance or data-gathering would likely extend to all Chinese-owned apps, including WeChat and others (which the White House alluded to on Sunday). But yes, the ban threat could well be real – though speculation has been that Trump was merely using this as a push, at this stage, in order to force ByteDance into selling the app to a US-owned company.

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And that does look to be what’s happening – on Sunday, Microsoft published an official statement which both confirmed that it is seeking a buy-out of TikTok, and that it had also arranged with President Trump to continue explorations of a possible purchase of the app.

As per Microsoft:

“Microsoft will move quickly to pursue discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, in a matter of weeks, and in any event completing these discussions no later than September 15, 2020. During this process, Microsoft looks forward to continuing dialogue with the United States Government, including with the President.”

Trump has since reiterated this deadline, telling reporters that:

“It can’t be controlled, for security reasons, by China – too big, too invasive – and here’s the deal: I don’t mind if, whether its Microsoft or somebody else, a big company, a secure company, very American company, buys it. It’s probably easier to buy the whole thing than to buy 30% of it because they say ‘how do you do 30%?’, ‘Who’s going to get the name?’ The name is hot, the brand is hot. Who’s going to get the name? How do you do that if it’s owned by two different companies? […] I suggested that [Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella] can go ahead, he can try. I set a date of around September 15th, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States, but if somebody, whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else, buys it, that’ll be interesting.”

So Trump has said, clearly, that TikTok has till September 15th to become American-owned or it’ll be banned.

There are various nuances within that statement. What if TikTok becomes British-owned instead, for example, while Trump has also left the door open for any other players to step in with takeover offers for the platform, aside from Microsoft.

Trump also noted that:

“A very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States, because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen.”

Which is not legal, nor constitutional, according to various experts, so it seems like an element that will likely be overlooked. But the bottom line is that TikTok is fine, for now, and it’ll be re-assessed within six weeks.

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Here’s a look at some of the key questions about the potential sell-off, and the future of the app.

Will TikTok eventually get shut down?

It seems unlikely. The platform itself is worth, according to some estimates, around $50 billion, and if the option is either to sell it to Microsoft – or someone else – for anywhere close to that amount, or lose out completely, you would expect a deal to get done, one way or another. That seems the most likely outcome, though it’ll be interesting to see if any other suitors emerge that might be a better fit, with TikTok not really meshing with Microsoft’s overall product suite.

Then again, Microsoft, buoyed by its success with LinkedIn, may see this as it’s time to step into social, and with the additional advertising potential and user data it can attain through the acquisition, it could better position the tech giant to go head to head with the Google’s and Facebook’s of the world moving forward. This could be a major, solidifying move for the company – or it could fall flat, like most of Microsoft’s other efforts when stepping out of the enterprise tech space. But given TikTok’s popularity, seeing it become a total flop would take some significant missteps.

Could Facebook look to take it over?

Maybe – though you have to wonder whether US officials would allow Apple, Facebook, Google or Amazon to acquire yet another significant tech platform, given the four of them appeared before a senate hearing into possible antitrust breaches just last week.

That would appear to go against the whole concept of the hearing – which may be another reason why Microsoft feels emboldened to step in now. It seemingly has to be one of these five that moves to buy out the app, and with four of them under a cloud, the negotiations could be fairly short.

Should you reduce your reliance on TikTok?

Well, yes – but if you’re reliant on any platform, you need to consider the fact that you don’t own that space, and it can be taken from you at any moment. The potential of a TikTok ban is another reminder that you’re operating on ‘rented land’, and the rules can switch, so you do need to diversify your digital presence and remain wary of stacking too much emphasis on one or the other.

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Will Instagram’s ‘Reels’ now take off, when Instagram releases the TikTok-like option to US users next month? 

I would say that’s a pretty safe bet, even if TikTok is bought out, because top creators will be looking to reduce their potential exposure and maximize their revenue potential. And if Instagram can offer better ad options, along with a similar, TikTok-type experience, it seems likely that Reels could catch on. Which is probably another consideration that any suitors need to consider in their offers for TikTok.

What about other options – like Byte, from the makers of Vine?

It’ll still be a significant challenge for any other players to take off, especially with the established revenue generation options available on YouTube and Facebook/Instagram.

Byte has pledged to pay top creators, and it’s even been making light of the TikTok/Microsoft news on Twitter.

But the challenge, which even TikTok faces, is building a sustainable eco-system for payments that can compete with other options. That, essentially, requires significant scale. TikTok is probably close to reaching the key threshold on this, its competitors are a distance behind.

I would expect that Instagram will be working to get Reels out as soon as possible, and that it’ll be looking to offer more contracts to TikTok creators in an effort to sink the app while the chips are down. The deep pockets of Microsoft could help to negate this, which means Instagram needs to push on this now, and TikTok has to hope that it can clarify a deal quickly in order to assure them that it will be able to offer payments long term.

Overall, this feels like an inflection point for TikTok, either way. The challenges before it are significant, and even if it’s sold off, it’s future is not certain. 

And then also, what does the Chinese Government think of this, the US President essentially bullying a Chinese company into selling an element of itself to an American business? 

You can’t imagine that sitting well with the leaders in Beijing.

It could be an interesting six weeks.

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TikTok Launches ‘TikTok Tactics’ Online Course to Help Marketers Level-Up their Platform Approach



TikTok Launches 'TikTok Tactics' Online Course to Help Marketers Level-Up their Platform Approach

TikTok has launched a new, video-aligned platform training course for marketers, designed to provide tips and insights on how to make best use of the platform for brand promotion and development.

The new ‘TikTok Tactics’ course is an ‘easy to follow, best-practice guide to advertising on TikTok’, which provides a range of lessons on attribution, targeting, creative best practices and more.

The course, which you can sign-up for here, focuses on four key elements:

Each course segment includes a video overview, which eventually points to three varying approaches to each, based on where you’re at in your marketing program.

TikTok Tactics course

For example, as you can see here, in the ‘Attribution’ element, TikTok notes that beginners with limited development resources should start with the standard website pixel, to help track user response data for your campaigns, while more advanced marketers are organizations can move on to its Pixel developer mode and API integration for advanced tracking.

Each element follows the same path, outlining how it can contribute to your overall TikTok marketing strategy, and how you can level up each aspect relative to where you’re at in your process.

TikTok Tactics course

It’s an interesting approach, which, in some ways, seems like TikTok is looking to gamify the progress of your TikTok marketing efforts, with each progressive step putting more reliance on its various tools.

For example, in the ‘Creative’ element, the three steps progress from utilizing your own assets, to partnering with creators via the TikTok Creator Marketplace. Which is logical, that’s one way in which you could scale up your creative elements as you grow your platform presence. But it also guides you further into TikTok’s own tools, and the features that will benefit the company, by bringing more ad dollars into its creator eco-system.

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That’s not to say that this approach is merely self-serving, but basically, TikTok is also looking to boost its own products and services, and in most cases, you don’t necessarily have to use TikTok’s own tools, specifically, to maximize your efforts.  

But you can, and these basic overviews, which also connect through to more information on each element, provide more specific outlines on how to go about leveling up your on-platform promotions as you progress over time.

As a singular guide, the insights here are fairly basic, but at each step, you are invited to dig deeper to develop your understanding, while TikTok has also included a 19-page guide book to help in your planning and implementation.

TikTok Tactics course

It’s interesting, and definitely worth a look for TikTok marketers, but it maybe doesn’t go into the specifics of on-platform tactics as much as the name might suggest.

Still, it could be worth a look if you want to make best use of TikTok for promotions.

You can sign-up and go through the TikTok Tactics course here.

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Op-Ed: Education tipline launched by Virginia governor is a slap in the face to teachers



Op-Ed: Education tipline launched by Virginia governor is a slap in the face to teachers

The first order of business for newly sworn-in Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia was to rescind the mask mandate for public schools.
Source – Virginia Governor Glenn Younglin

A bland-looking email address launched by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin designed to allow parents to report incidents at Virginia schools where they feel their parental rights are being undermined has created quite a storm on social media.

Much like Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s making neighbors snitches if they think someone is having an abortion, Governor Youngkin is allowing people to go to a website he has created so they can snitch on a teacher, librarian, school board member, and I guess, even the custodian or your child’s bus driver.

The Governor’s Office launched [email protected] with the intent for parents to report violations of his first two Executive Orders, which allow parents to opt their students out of school masking requirements and bans the teaching of “inherently divisive topics” including critical race theory in schools.

It appears that Youngkin went on the John Fredericks Radio Show Monday,  and said during his interview that “… [It’s] for parents to send us any instances where they feel that their fundamental rights are being violated, where their children are not being respected, where there are inherently divisive practices in their schools.”

The backlash over the order and the tip-line began to build on social media, with celebrities like John Legend and comedian Patton Oswald sharing the address with their followers.

“Black parents need to flood these tip lines with complaints about our history being silenced,” Legend wrote on Twitter, referring to the critical race theory ban.

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7News spoke to Oveta Scott, a Prince William County middle school teacher who has spent more than a decade in the classroom.

We are human beings too. We are going through it too,” she said when asked about her reaction to the governor’s new email tip line. ‘Why are you vilifying us and attacking us? What are we doing? We’re trying to stay afloat. We have a shortage of substitutes. We have a shortage of bus drivers. Every day, I have to look for an email to see if I’m covering someone’s class. Every day.”

Nothing but a big distraction by an irresponsible public servant

State Senator Louise Lucas, a Democrat representing the 18th District in the southeast part of the state, said she does not expect the tip-line to lead to much of anything.

“Like a lot of other gimmicks that a lot of other governors have put forward, this one is going to fall flat like a led balloon,” she said, adding that most people she has spoken to see it as an “intimidation” tactic, reports

“I have never seen a Governor act in such an irresponsible way as to reach down to the parents and by step the teachers, by step the principal, the superintends of school, just to try to intimidate,” Lucas said. “There’s more than just one segment of parents in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Is he listening to Black parents, Hispanic parents, Asian-American parents? Which parents is he listening to? He needs to listen to all parents. Last I checked, parents in the Commonwealth of Virginia want their children to be safe in school.”

Senator Lucas is letting Governor Youngkin off easy. I personally think Youngkin is taking a page from Texas Governor Abbott’s playbook, because just last week, at the public charter school, Founders Classical Academy of Lewisville, Abbott told hundreds of parents “The essential role of parents is being threatened by government itself.”

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Abbott isn’t relying on a web address for snitches. He wants to change the Texas state constitution to make sure that “parents will be restored to their rightful place as the pre-eminent decision-makers for their children.”

The Governor also told the crowd he wants to toughen penalties against educators, including teachers and librarians who give students inappropriate books. “Texas will ensure that any education personnel who is convicted of providing minors with obscene content will lose their educational credentials and state licensing, forfeits their retirement benefits, and be placed on a do not hire list.”

It is time for all this craziness to come to an end. Good grief – I am getting too old to deal with all this “Bull S—” going on today.

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Instagram Adds Scheduled Live Display on User Profiles to Improve Discovery of Upcoming Streams



Instagram Adds Scheduled Live Display on User Profiles to Improve Discovery of Upcoming Streams

After previewing it as a coming feature within its announcement of the expansion of remixable videos on the platform last week, Instagram has now outlined its new display of scheduled live streams on creator profiles, providing another way to raise awareness of upcoming live broadcasts in the app.

As you can see in these screenshots, shared by Instagram chief Adam Mosseri, the new display option will enable you to list your upcoming IG live streams on your profile, which, when tapped, will provide additional info in a pop-up prompt, where people can also sign-up for a reminder of when the stream is set to begin.

As explained by Mosseri:

“Creators have been able to schedule lives for a while now, but now, you can separate scheduling a live from creating a feed post, or even now a Story post, about that Live. You also get a little badge on your profile that’s lets followers know, or anybody know that goes to your profile, that there’s a Live coming up and they can subscribe to be reminded.”

Mosseri further notes that users can create as many scheduled lives as they like, with a side-scrolling list then added to your profile display.

It could be a handy addition for those who broadcast via IG Live, which could prompt more people to tune in, by raising more awareness about your broadcasts. Up till now, the only way to notify people about your upcoming streams in the app has been, as Mosseri notes, through posts and Stories, which limits the reach of those notifications to, generally, your existing followers. Now, anyone who comes by your profile will be able to see that you have a live broadcast coming up, which could bring in more viewers.

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IG Live has become a key connection surface in the app, particularly throughout the pandemic, and as Instagram looks to expand the option into eCommerce, facilitating more direct engagement between brands and fans, the capacity to map out a more effective IG Live strategy could be a big help in maximizing your on-platform efforts.

It may seem like a relatively small addition in the broader scheme, but it could be a big help in raising awareness, and getting more viewers to your upcoming broadcasts.

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