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TikTok Launches Legal Action Against Pending App Store Ban

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While all parties have agreed, in principle, to the proposed Oracle/Walmart lead takeover of TikTok, which seemingly meets both the US and Chinese Government’s requirements for the deal to proceed, the actual details are still being worked out, with some disagreement over what, exactly, will be included in the sell-off of the app.  

Which now leads to the next potential problem for the app.

Originally, TikTok had until September 20th – last Sunday – to arrange a separation deal, or it would face removal from the US app store. That came close to happening, until the Oracle/Walmart deal was seemingly on track for approval, and as such, the US Department of Commerce agreed to give TikTok an extra seven days to finalize the new arrangement.

Which means that the app’s deadline is now this Sunday, and if the takeover deal is not signed off by then, TikTok will indeed be removed from US app stores, meaning that while current users will still be able to use the app, no one else will be able to get it until the deal gets the final go-ahead.

TikTok is still adding new users at a solid rate, and as such, it’s fairly keen to avoid an app store ban – and now, as a sort insurance policy in case the Oracle deal drags on, TikTok has requested an injunction against its pending app store ban, citing a lack of evidence and just cause in the White House executive order.

And it may well get it – late last week, a US Magistrate ruled that the same ban on WeChat, which was also named in the original White House Executive Order, could not go ahead due to lack of evidence in relation to the concern that the app is a threat to national security.

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Enligt Judge Laurel Beeler

“While the general evidence about the threat to national security related to China (regarding technology and mobile technology) is considerable, the specific evidence about WeChat is modest”.

TikTok could argue the same. In fact, it’s already stated that case in its commentary on the proposed US Government ban, in a post entitled ‘Why we are suing the Administration‘ published last month.

Enligt Tick tack:

The Executive Order issued by the Administration on August 6th, 2020 has the potential to strip the rights of [our] community without any evidence to justify such an extreme action, and without any due process. We strongly disagree with the Administration’s position that TikTok is a national security threat and we have articulated these objections previously.”

Indeed, while various concerns have been raised about TikTok’s potential länkar to the Chinese Government, and while the app has been banned for use on US, UK and Australian military-issued devices, the actual evidence of TikTok or parent company ByteDance sharing data with the Chinese regime seems very thin – or at least it’s not available publicly.

TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, which, as a Chinese company, is beholden to China’s strict cybersecurity laws, which require businesses to share their user data on request, would seemingly have to share such, if the CCP requested it. But we have no evidence that any such demand has been tendered, nor will be any time in future. 

Speculation also exists around TikTok’s algorithms and its potential to amplify pro-China messaging, but again, the actual evidence is limited in TikTok’s specific case. Moderation guidelines used by employees of the Chinese version of the app, ‘Douyin’, were leaked to the press late last year, and they clearly showed that its moderators had been advised to censor anti-China content. But Douyin and TikTok are not the same, and TikTok has explained these specific guidelines were never applied in its app.

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So while the concerns are valid, and there is some basis to the considerations, the evidence for enforcement may not hold up in court. At least, it didn’t in WeChat’s case.

That could mean that TikTok will be able to avoid an app store ban, if a takeover deal is not reached, which would definitely not look good for the Trump administration and its stated intention to restrict the app.   

That could, once again, put TikTok in the spotlight, and make the US Government even more determined to force a full sell-off of the app to US-based ownership. 

Basically, the TikTok takeover saga is not over yet, and while it still seems likely that the parties will come to some form of agreement to let TikTok continue operating in the US, that’s still not a given, and it could face removal from app stores in just a few more days.

Socialmediatoday.com

SOCIAL

Elon Musk beskriver nya bockmarkeringar i alternativa färger för att förtydliga verifieringen

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Elon Musk Outlines New, Alternate Color Checkmarks to Clarify Verification

Elon Musk has revealed more details of the coming revamp of Twitter’s $8 verification program, which was initially launched three weeks back, but then pulled from live production due to a raft of impersonations which caused significant confusion in the app.

Those impersonations also led to stock price dips, corporate apologies, misreporting – the $8 verification plan, while only available to some users, for a short amount of time, immediately caused significant issues for Twitter and it’s as partners.

So Elon and Co. took it back, in order to revise and re-shape the program in a more brand-safe, user-friendly way.

And now, Musk has revealed more details as to exactly how the updated $8 verification plan will work.

First, to limit the potential of misrepresentation of corporate and government accounts, Musk says that those profiles will now get a different colored checkmark, which will ensure that people can’t just buy a blue tick and then pretend to be Coca-Cola for example.

Enligt Mysk:

“Gold check for companies, gray check for government, blue for individuals (celebrity or not)”

App researcher Alessandro Paluzzi Postad dessa exempel of how these new ticks might look in the app.

It’s a sensible move, which will avoid similar incidents like this tweet from an $8 verified account, which tanked Eli Lilly’s stock price.

Eli Lilly tweet

The updated gold checkmark will ideally limit the potential for future users to do the same, because they won’t be able to buy the official gold tick – though there will be a period of adjustment and education on such for users.

The alternate checkmarks will also likely kill off Twitter’s new gray ‘Official’ tick, which looks pretty ridiculous.

Twitter Official checkmark

Of course, the new variations of checkmarks do also add the potential problem of another elusive marker that people will be trying to get. But we’ll cross that extra complication when we come to it.

Another concern with this approach is that it’ll require manual checking, as Twitter can’t know for sure that it’s a brand or government account without some kind of confirmation.
Initially, Twitter has thus far opted to avoid any kind of manual confirmation in this new process, due to the additional labor requirement, but now, Musk says that this will be integrated into the updated process:

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“All verified accounts will be manually authenticated before check activates. Painful, but necessary.”

How Musk and Co. do that with any level of efficiency, with 65% less staff, I don’t know, but it seems like they’re going to at least try to find a way to check each $8 subscriber before approving their blue tick.

Musk also noted last week that any change in user name will result in a blue tick being deactivated till Twitter approves the new name.

So, like, a lot of manual monitoring, with a lot less staff.

Also, for the traditional blue checkmarks, there’ll be no differentiation between those who’ve been given the marker, and those who’ve paid for it:

“All verified individual humans will have same blue check, as boundary of what constitutes ‘notable’ is otherwise too subjective.”

Which is true – there are a lot of blue checkmarks on random accounts, and it has been a confused system. But at the same time, there are also a lot of high-profile individuals who could be at risk of impersonation under this system – which, incidentally, is why the blue ticks were introduced in the first place (in 2009, an MLB star sued Twitter for allowing a scammer to use his likeness to dupe people in the app).

Det finns också detta:

“Individuals can have secondary tiny logo showing they belong to an org if verified as such by that org.”

So an additional qualifier for spokespeople, CEOs and journalists, as another measure to avoid impersonation.

The updated elements will certainly lessen the scope for scam activity, but still, they do also introduce a level of risk, and at the same time, the scheme itself is unlikely to work out as Musk hopes.

The revamp of Twitter’s verification program is Elon’s first grand plan to save the app (aside from cutting costs), by giving users access to one of the most in-demand in-app features – the elusive blue checkmark.

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Charging for verification could theoretically kill two birds with one stone, in verifying real humans (while making it cost-prohibitive to crate bot accounts) while also providing a direct revenue stream, thereby reducing the company’s reliance in ads. People want the blue tick, now they can get it, while Musk has also sought to amplify the cultural divide element, by presenting this as a way to even the field, and enable all users to get what only celebrities have thus far been able to access.

Initially, Musk was set to charge $20 per month for this service, but after an argument with the author of ‘Misery’, he reduced this to $8 per month.

In Musk’s view, this is a good deal, because who doesn’t have an extra $8 to spend?

He’s since sought to establish this as the norm, repeatedly telling his critics to ‘now pay $8’, as if it’s a forgone conclusion that people will indeed pay.

But they won’t, and history shows that there’s almost no chance that Musk’s paid verification scheme will actually work as intended.

Take, for example, Twitter blå, which provides Twitter users with a raft of additional features, which was initially available for $3 per month.

Twitter Blue never saw much take-up, peaking at 100k subscribers, with even the addition of tweet editing, the most requested feature in social media history, failing to shift the needle in any significant way.

Given this, it’s difficult to see Musk’s new, $8 verification getting the number of sign ups he’d need to achieve his aims for the option.

For context:

  • Om Elon vill få prenumerationer för att bidra med 50% av Twitters intäkter, som han tidigare sagt, behöver han 24,6 miljoner användare att logga in för att betala $8 per månad för en blå bock
  • Om han vill använda detta som ett sätt att verifiera alla människor, så att endast botkonton är de som inte har en blå bock, skulle du tro att han skulle titta på uppemot 75% av Twitters användarbas, eller cirka 178 miljoner användare som betalar varje månad
  • Twitter kommer sannolikt faktiskt att förlora omkring $6 per amerikansk användare, per månad, för varje person som registrerar sig för det nya $8 Twitter Blue-schemat, på grund av Musks plan att visa Blue-prenumeranter "halva annonserna". Om man tar hänsyn till App Store-avgifterna från den månatliga $8-betalningen, kan det faktiskt vara en svår balans ur intäktssynpunkt, med Twitter potentiellt till och med förlora pengar på affären, om det slutar med att annonsexponeringen minskar.
  • Majoriteten av Twitter-användare är utanför USA, där $8 per månad kan vara mycket mer kostnadsöverkomligt. Detta gäller särskilt i Indien, där det mesta av Twitters tillväxt har kommit från de senaste tre åren. Indien har nu 18,8 miljoner användare vilket gör det till Twitters tredje största publikmarknad, och även om Musk också har flaggat för varierande prissättning per region, kan till och med $1 per månad vara för högt för utvecklingsmarknader
     
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I huvudsak finns det inget prejudikat som tyder på att tillräckligt många användare kommer att registrera sig för Elons $8 per månad bockplan för att göra det värt besväret för företaget att köra, antingen som en intäkts- eller verifieringsväg. Bara 0,41% av Snapchat-användare betalar för Snapchat+, en bråkdel av LinkedIn-användare ponny upp för Premium, medan Meta drog slutsatsen för länge sedan att debitera användare var inte i närheten så lukrativt som att visa fler annonser till en större publik.

Dessa nya åtgärder motverkar vissa av de problem som den första versionen av Musks $8-verifieringsprogram introducerade, men återigen kunde de också undvika dem helt genom att revidera det nuvarande blåchecksystemet, i motsats till att helt enkelt låta folk betala för markören.

Men oavsett är Musk fast besluten att gå vidare och ta reda på det själv på båda håll

Musk säger att den uppdaterade $8-verifieringsplanen kommer att lanseras på fredag nästa vecka (12/2).



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