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With US Takeover Deadline Looming, Reports Suggest China Would Prefer to See TikTok Shut Down



With the US Government’s deadline for the sell-off of TikTok looming, a new report has suggested that the Chinese Government would actually prefer to see the app shut down, as opposed to being sold into US ownership.

The TikTok negotiations, in which Microsoft is still seemingly the lead bidder, have been thrown into disarray in the last week after the Chinese Government announced new regulations which restrict the sale of technological advancements – including algorithms – within foreign trade deals.

TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has been in negotiations with Chinese and US officials as it seeks to find a way beyond the current impasse – but according to a new report from Reuters, the new Chinese regulations may actually be part of Beijing’s broader opposition to a sell-off of the app.

As per Reuters:

Chinese officials believe a forced sale would make both ByteDance and China appear weak in the face of pressure from Washington, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.”

Indeed, this has been one of the key risks in the process all along – very early on, when US President Donald Trump first announced his coming Executive Order which would force TikTok’s sale, reports suggested that Chinese officials were furious at Trump’s action, which essentially holds a Chinese company, in ByteDance, to ransom over the app. 

This element is also a risk for Microsoft, or any company bidding for the platform, with respect to its future in China, with reports also suggesting that any such deal could lead to further sanctions and punishments in retaliation for the forced sell-off, if it goes ahead. 

But now, it may not even get to that point. If these reports are correct, then China’s ruling CCP will actually push TikTok towards a full ban in the US, rather than let the sale go through.

That is of course, unless negotiators can find another way around, and within that, one option is that TikTok could be sold off without its core algorithms. Which would essentially leave it as just a shell – the bidders would be paying, in the end, for the TikTok branding and that’s about it. 

Whether the CCP would allow even that to happen is another question, given the potential concerns over perception. And if they did, why would any company pay for just the basic app, with no tech? Surely TikTok without its systems is not TikTok as we know it.

Apparently, one bidder would, with Triller still interested in buying a hollowed-out TikTok, as per reports. But the price tag, you would think, would have to be significantly lower – and then, what would you really be left with? Would TikTok, the platform, ever be the same if its core algorithms and systems were stripped away?

It’s amazing to consider that a relatively simple, short-form video app is now central to a potential new cold war, with the highest-ranking Chinese and US officials scrutinizing the particulars of any such deal.

How it eventually plays out is anyone’s guess at this stage, but the deadline, as noted, is closing in, which will bring it to a conclusion, one way or another, very soon.

How soon exactly?

To clarify, in his original statement on the coming ban, US President Donald Trump noted that TikTok had till September 15th to be sold off to a US company, or face a ban in the US. This was before Trump had signed the official Executive Order on the process, which was eventually signed on August 6th. Within that document, it states that the sale needs to happen “beginning 45 days after the date of this order”. That actually, officially, puts the final date at September 20th, five days longer than the initial announcement.

Shortly after this, however, another EO came from the White House which gave ByteDance 90 days to divest its purchase of, the app that eventually became TikTok in the US. That order also directs ByteDance to destroy any US user data – though it’s not entirely clear how the two orders overlap. 

So, does ByteDance have till September 20th or November 12th? Honestly, it’s a little hard to tell based on the seemingly contradictory documents – but what is fairly definitive is that President Trump will be pushing for a deal within the next week.

As per President Trump on Thursday:

“We’ll either close up TikTok in this country for security reasons or it’ll be sold. I’m not extending deadlines, no, it’s September 15th – there’ll be no extension of the TikTok deadline.”

So, pretty clear, right? Crystal?

Technicalities aside, it does seem like we’ll see the next stage of the TikTok sell-off – whatever that may look like – early next week. That could result in a transfer to Microsoft, or another consortium bid. Or it could kick off a new round of international trade sanctions. 

The stakes are indeed extremely high, and while it may seem to many that TikTok is a mostly frivolous, fun app where young people engage in the latest viral dance trends, symbolically, it could end up being a lot more.  

And yes, it could be banned outright. The blocking of TikTok in the US, as has already happened in India, remains a very real possibility at this late hour of negotiations.

It’s going to be a tense weekend of negotiations, you’d expect.


Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer: Born or made great?



The Big 3 have won a total of 56 Grand Slams in their career.

Ecogastronomy, puppet arts, viticulture and enology, influencer marketing, or bakery science. In 2022, you can become anything you want and there are even specialized undergraduate degrees to help you gain all the relevant skills at university. Essentially, you can now be academically trained in any subject and learn practically everything you need to excel at your job.

In the context of sports, and particularly tennis, this is no different. There are plenty of degrees you can pursue to complement your career as an athlete, physiotherapist, or coach with useful knowledge about the human body, anatomy, and health.

This basically means that professional tennis players of the 21st century can complement their extraordinary talent and training routine with a relevant education and an elite team of professional and eminent physiotherapists, coaches, PR, and strategists. Ultimately, players have countless tools that can help them win matches, stay healthy, and be well-liked by the press and the fans.

You can find these ‘A teams’ all around the tour nowadays: players of the former next gen have taken advantage of their early success to incorporate experts on every specialty into their team and others like Carlos Alcaraz or Holger Rune have come directly in the tour alongside first-class teams headed by former World No. 1 and Slam champion Juan Carlos Ferrero and respected coach Patrick Mouratoglou respectively.

Understandably, tennis legends who have been on tour for almost two decades have progressively adapted to the quest for perfection too. You must remember Novak Djokovic’s radical diet change mid-career or Rafael Nadal’s loyal sports doctor for most of his injury-prone career.

21st-century professional tennis players have learned it all as far as tennis skills are concerned. In fact, objectively any top-100 player can produce Djokovesque cross-court backhands or Nadalese down-the-line forehands any time – we have seen rallies of the highest level in practices, Challengers and junior tournaments.

So, one must think that if every player on the tour can produce top-level tennis and is surrounded by the perfect team, what is stopping them from winning 20+ Grand Slam titles like Nadal, Roger Federer, and Djokovic?

Nadal, Federer and Djokovic — the Big 3

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in discussion at the 2022 Laver Cup.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in discussion at the 2022 Laver Cup.

The Big 3 — Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic — are living proof that in life there are things you just can’t learn, despite our self-help books saying otherwise. Tennis is different from other mainstream sports in that it remains an individual and extremely mental sport.

These three players belong at a higher level than anyone else, and it is not only the 63 combined Slam titles that separate them from their opponents. It is clearly not their physical form either, quite the opposite currently. It is the ability to remain serene, focused, confident, and indifferent to the crowd, pressure, and expectations, to play one point at a time, whether it is a break or a championship point, and to extract it from the surrounding context.

Being the best of all time does, however, not imply being the better player in all matches. We don’t have to go far back to find an example of a time when Nadal and Djokovic were the clear underdogs in a match. For instance, in Wimbledon 2022 we saw Nadal win a match with an abdominal tear and an average 80-mph serve speed (on a grasscourt!) against Taylor Fritz, a top American player in his best-ever season.

In essence, the three GOATs have had the ability to know how to win even when they are the worst players on the court, and if that greatness is something we all could learn or train for, it would stop being called so and we would see it more often.

Whether it is the experience, intelligence or just intrinsic and unique talent that has led to Big 3’s unprecedented achievements we won’t ever exactly know and, I am afraid, they are giving no opportunity to the so-called Next Gen to even dream of replicating their record book and help us make sense of what it takes to become a tennis master.

In any case, we can only feel extremely fortunate to have lived on the same timeline as the greatest trivalry in sports history. All of us, but the Next Gen, can only hope Nadal and Djokovic do not follow Federer’s retirement path anytime soon. And one only needs to watch their last matches against each other to (rightfully) assume that might not happen anytime soon.

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

Poll : Who will end up with most Grand Slam titles?

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Meta Could be Exploring Paid Blue Checkmarks on Facebook and Instagram



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



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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