TikTok is the social media sensation that all of Silicon Valley — and a lot of Washington, DC — has their eyes on. The app, created by ByteDance, became famous for rocketing musicians and dancers to stardom. But as its popularity and influence have grown, so has scrutiny of its privacy policies, security, and influence, with legislators voicing concern about its ownership by a Chinese firm. Meanwhile, social media competitors are doing everything they can to knock off TikTok’s features and usurp its short-form video dominance.
US District Judge Donald W. Molloy issued a preliminary injunction (pdf) blocking the ban on Thursday, as reported by Reuters. The ban had been set to take effect on January 1st. TikTok sued Montana shortly after Governor Greg Gianforte signed SB 419 in May.
The money will go towards Project Clover, TikTok’s initiative to house European user data on local servers to address concerns from regulators.
TikTok’s data center in Ireland is already up and running, but it’s already working on another in Norway, where it expects data migration to begin in late 2024. Once complete, TikTok says its Norway facility will be the “largest data centre in Europe.”
This kind of video gets me in trouble at home because I will try to emulate it for fun. Just hours of recording noises and editing them, to the exclusion of all of the reasonable, responsible things I should do instead.
Anyway, here’s someone smacking, plucking, and scraping disparate household items to get the Netflix logo sound.
The Washington Post reports that the Senate Judiciary Committee dispatched subpoena-armed US Marshals to CEOs Linda Yaccarino of X (formerly Twitter) and Jason Citron of Discord for December 6th testimony about online child sexual exploitation. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel was also subpoenaed but without the use of Marshals.
Lawmakers expect Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok’s Shou Zi Chew to testify voluntarily as Congress continues to try to child-proof the internet with regulation.
[The Washington Post]
Software engineer Thomas Barlow has been making TikToks showing off a small musical quartet of step motors that he made possible with an Arduino, MIDI sequences, a little coding, and some other gear. He made a video showing how (and he published code and a tutorial on GitHub).
Anyway, who knew step motors are perfect for Radiohead?
The social media giant claims it’s not valuable enough, and is only being subjected to the strict obligations that come with the Digital Markets Act (DMA) gatekeeper designation because it’s being lumped together with Chinese parent ByteDance, which has many operations outside of Europe.
The deadline to appeal is today, November 16th, and so far Apple’s been very quiet. Microsoft, Google and Amazon have not challenged.
In 2020, the share of Americans age 18-29 who could say the same was just 9 percent, according to a new poll from Pew Research. Additionally, 43 percent of TikTok users report consuming news on the platform, up from 22 percent in 2020.
TikTok’s main feed now has an “add song” button that lets you save songs to your Spotify Liked Songs playlist. Spotify says both free and paid US and UK members will get it.
If you don’t see it yet, make sure to update both apps and set Spotify as as your default streaming service in the TikTok app (Settings > Music).
Update November 14th, 2023, 11:45AM ET: TechCrunch notes you can also pick Apple Music or Amazon Music.
“The government has decided to ban TikTok as it was necessary to regulate the use of the social media platform that was disrupting social harmony, goodwill and flow of indecent materials,” said Foreign Minister Narayan Prakash Saud at a cabinet meeting on Monday.
Nepal is the second country to go for a nation-wide ban of the popular social platform — India has also banned TikTok. Countries including the US, UK, and Canada have banned TikTok on government-issued devices.
Business Insider assigned two journalists the task of scrolling 500 TikTok videos each to tally up the number of ads they saw.
Both reported that around 30 percent of the content was sponsored. Insider notes that’s similar to broadcast TV’s roughly 28 percent.
TikTok’s been testing an ad-free tier for five bucks a month, so at least there’s that.
The race is on to find out: TechCrunch reports that TikTok is testing 15-minute video uploads, an increase of 5 minutes from the current max time. YouTube, meanwhile, is all in with Shorts as its answer to TikTok’s vertical, mobile-first format.
Ben Davis wrote a review of artist Devon Rodriguez’s solo show called “Underground,” a nod to how Rodriguez rose to fame: doing portraits of fellow subway riders, giving them the portraits, and posting the whole thing to TikTok.
I tend to view the existence of a review as someone taking art seriously — even if the reviewer doesn’t like the art, it was worth considering thoughtfully. Rodriguez didn’t see it that way, and now Davis is writing about what happens when social media and the art world interact.
First was X, then came Meta, now TikTok has put out a blog post on its moderation policies in response to EU commissioner Thierry Breton. The video platform says it’s removed over 500,000 videos and 8,000 livestreams in the region since the attacks on October 7th, and has also added more Arabic and Hebrew-speaking moderators to its ranks.
Especially if they’re selling tens of thousands of products on TikTok Shop without the infrastructure to fulfill orders.
An Insider report on the viral products sold on TikTok (like a $44 pickle jar sweatshirt) suggests sales ebb and flow — merchants are sometimes overwhelmed with orders, and other times working through dry spells.
Paramount already removed its full upload of Mean Girls across 23 video clips. Seems the promotion was a Mean Girls Day-only event, sadly.
Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) wrote a letter to TikTok about the company’s recent decisions to have executives from ByteDance, its China-based parent company, work for TikTok instead:
The personnel changes give the impression that TikTok is attempting to preserve ByteDance’s influence over TikTok while avoiding suspicion, which is addressed to TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew. We are concerned these personnel changes undermine the security of U.S. data and the representations TikTok has made about its independence from ByteDance.
[The Wall Street Journal]
At Code 2023, he noted that of all the VLOPs, TikTok hasn’t laid off members of its trust and safety team and that it continues to invest heavily in identifying inauthentic behavior. Not the answer I was expecting!