Tag Archives: tiktok

Montana Plans To Ban TikTok



Lawmakers in Washington are pushing for an outright ban of TikTok on American soil. Montana might beat them to it, The New York Times reported.

The state’s legislature is further along than any other body in the United States to passing a Ban of the popular Chinese-owned video app, which has faced scrutiny for whether it is handling sensitive data about Americans to Beijing. A Montana bill to block the app was introduced in February, and the State Senate approved it last month. The State House, where the bill has a strong chance of passing after two more votes, is scheduled to consider it on Thursday.

According to The New York Times, the proposal has encountered obstacles. A major internet provider said it could not block TikTok in Montana, prompting lawmakers to rewrite the legislation. A trade group funded by Apple and Google, which operate the app stores that would be forbidden to carry the app, also declared that it was impossible for the companies to prevent access to TikTok in a single state.

The New York Times also reported that TikTok has pushed its users to oppose the legislation by calling and emailing Montana’s Republican governor, Greg Gianforte. A spokeswoman for Mr. Gianforte said he would “carefully consider any bill the Legislature sends to his desk” and noted that he had already banned TikTok on state devices.

The fight in Montana is a preview of what the United States might confront at a national level if lawmakers or the White House tries to enact a nationwide ban of TikTok. Even if legislation disallowing the app is passed, The New York Times wrote, carrying out a ban is technologically difficult and would invoke companies across the digital economy.

Montana State Representative, Zooey Zephyr, a Democrat, said in an interview that it was possible that TikTok users could disguise their location to maintain access to the app even after a ban, which could also be hard to enforce in border towns where internet connections may involve cellular towers in another state.

NBC News reported that leading human rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have long been critical of the Chinese government and its policies. But the groups are lining up against a proposed U.S. TikTok ban, despite the fact that the app’s parent company is Chinese, saying that eliminating a major platform for public expression won’t fix Beijing’s civil rights record or secure American’s privacy.

According to NBC News, the American Civil Liberties Union has used their TikTok account to answer users’ questions about the proposed ban and urged them to reach out to members of Congress to protest HR 1153, a House bill that would impose new restrictions on TikTok and other social media companies around how Americans’ personal data is handled.

In a Pew survey released last week, the largest share, 46%, of young Americans ages 18 to 29 opposed a ban. Just 29% of that demographic said they supported a ban and 24% weren’t sure. By comparison, roughly half of U.S. adults overall said they wanted TikTok banned, with 22% opposed and 28% undecided.

Personally, I don’t use TikTok. However, it is clear that many other people – especially young people – do use it. I was surprised to see that various human rights organizations are in favor of preventing a ban on TikTok, considering that the app is made by a Chinese company.


TikTok Refreshed Its Community Guidelines



TikTok posted “Helping creators understand our rules with refreshed Community Guidelines”. It was written by Julie de Bailliencourt, Global Head of Product Policy, TikTok.

Today we are refreshing our Community Guidelines. These are the rules and standards for being part of the TikTok community, which is now more than 150 million people in the United States and more than 1 billion worldwide. These rules apply to everyone and everything on our platform.

As part of this, for the first time, we’re sharing TikTok’s Community Principles to help people understand our decisions about how we work to keep TikTok safe and build trust in our approach. These principles are based on our commitment to uphold human rights and aligned with international legal frameworks.

These principles guide our decisions about how we moderate content, so that we can strive to be fair in our actions, protect human dignity, and strike a balance between freedom of expression and preventing harm…

Advancing our rules for how we treat synthetic media, which is content created or modified by AI technology;

Adding ‘tribe’ as a protected attribute in our hate speech and hateful behavior policies;

More detail about how to work to protect civic and election integrity, including our approach to government, politician, and political party accounts.

TikTok also laid out the four pillars of their approach to moderation:

  • Remove violative content;
  • Age-restrict mature content so it is only viewed by adults (18 years or older). (As a reminder, this content much still abide by our Community Guidelines);
  • Make content ineligible for recommendation in the For You feed that isn’t appropriate for a broad audience;
  • Empower our community with information tools and resources to stay in control of their experience

TechCrunch reported: The updated guidelines, which will go into effect on April 21, come as TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is slated to appear before Congress on March 23 amid growing security concerns. 

According to TechCrunch, as part of the updated guidelines, synthetic or manipulated media that shows realistic scenes must be clearly disclosed. The company said this can be done through the use of a sticker or caption, such as “synthetic,” “fake,” “not real” or “altered.”  TikTok notes that although it welcomes the creativity the AI unlocks, the technology can make it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction, which can lead to risks.

The Hill reported that last week, the Biden administration said it would ban the app in the U.S. if TikTok’s Chinese-based parent company, ByteDance, did not sell its stake to an American company. 

According to The Hill, during a briefing call on Monday, Republican Congressional aides highlighted talking points they think the company may use to defend itself against criticism regarding the app.  They also expect Chew to argue against banning the app because of its popularity.

Considering all of this, it seems to me that there is nothing CEO Shou Zi Chew can say that would change the minds of the Biden administration, the security agencies, or Congress. Perhaps the solution is to ban TikTok. It could make room for an American company to create something similar. 

 


European Commission Staff Banned From Using TikTok



The European Commission posted a press release titled: “Commission strengthens cybersecurity and suspends the use of TikTok on its corporate devices”. From the press release:

“To increase its cybersecurity, the Commission’s Corporate Management Board has decided to suspend the use of the TikTok application on its corporate devices and on personal devices enrolled in the Commission mobile device service. The measure aims to protect the Commission against cybersecurity threats and actions which may be exploited for cyber-attacks against the corporate environment of the Commission. The security developments of other social media platforms will also be kept under constant review.

“The measure is in line with Commission strict internal cybersecurity policies for use of mobile devices for work-related communications. It complements long-standing Commission advice to staff to apply best practices when using social media platforms and keep high-level of cyber awareness in their daily work.

“The Commission is committed to ensuring that its staff is well protected against increasing cyber threats and incidents. It is, therefore, our duty to respond as early as possible to potential cyber alerts.

“Today’s suspension is an internal corporate decision which is strictly limited to the use of devices enrolled in its mobile service.”

In an unprecedented move, the European Commission has banned staff from using the Chinese social media app TikTok over security concerns, in the latest example of growing strains between Beijing and the West, Politico reported.

According to Politico, western governments are increasingly alarmed by evidence that Chinese technology companies assist the Communist Party and its intelligence services in gathering vast amounts of data all over the world – with a particular focus on high-value political and security targets.

A senior official told Politico that all staff were ordered on Thursday morning to remove TikTok from their official devices and that they must also remove the app from their personal devices if they have any work-related apps installed.

Alternatively, the staff member can delete work-related apps from their personal phones if they insist on keeping TikTok.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the European Commission has banned its staff from using the TikTok app on their work-issued devices from March 15 because of cybersecurity concerns, widening across the Atlantic a patchwork of bans affecting U.S. officials.

The move, The Wall Street Journal reported, would affect thousands of employees of the European Union’s top executive body, comes as officials in Europe and the U.S. scrutinize TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., over security concerns.

A commission spokeswoman said staff were told to remove TikTok if it was installed on their work devices. Personal devices that have work-related apps, such a a professional email app, were also banned from having TikTok, she said. The decision was made by the commission’s corporate management board.

It is unclear to me why anyone would want to put apps like TikTok onto their work-related devices. The European Commission has the authority to require its staff to remove TikTok (and potentially other social media apps) off of their work-phones. I can see why the Commission is concerned about security risks from apps that typically appear to be entertaining.


TikTok Launches TikTok Trivia



TikTok announced TikTok Trivia, which will begin on February 22 through February 26. From the announcement:

…Today, we’re bringing a whole new experience to the TikTok community, with 5-days of interactive TikTok Trivia presented by Lionsgate and John Wick Chapter 4. Starting February 22, you can tune into the official @TikTok account to participate in trivia challenges and interact with host, actor, and TikTok creator James Henry, known for his creative skits and quirky videos.

“Game shows and trivia have bene part of popular culture for years, and I’m thrilled to work with TikTok to bring this engaging entertainment format to TikTok LIVE. TikTok Trivia has the power to bring people together, creating an electrifying atmosphere filled with excitement and a shared set of community,” said James Henry.

“TikTok is a fantastic partner! We have crafted fan-first campaigns with their team since they launched. This time around, we worked closely with them on this first-to-market program that engages and immerses fans and their love of the John Wick franchise and specifically John Wick Chapter 4 – and it became a strategic throughline for our campaign,” said Dani Otero, SVP Global Paid Media & Analytics At Lionsgate.

Here are some things to know about this event:

Anyone 18 years or older in the US can register for TikTok Trivia by clicking on a trivia widget on the For Your feed, searching for #TikTokTrivia, or by going to the @TikTok account to participate in real-time interactive trivia.

Make sure to join the trivia session on time, so you don’t mist out on some fun John Wick questions and teasers, a chance to win a share of the $500k prize pool, and stay tuned after each trivia session for recommendations of entertaining and interactive LIVE creators to check out.

The first three days of trivia will include two sessions per day at 5-7 pm PT/8-9 ET and 6-7 pm PT/9-10 pm ET. Each session will have several rounds of trivia questions where you can select answers from multiple-choice options. For a chance to win a share of the prize money, you need to answer all questions correctly.

The Verge reported that categories for the trivia include lifestyle, beauty, sports, and music, according to TikTok, along with John Wick questions. The event is sponsored by Lionsgate and its upcoming film John Wick: Chapter 4.

According to The Verge, although the trivia series is a step out of TikTok’s usual offerings, the company has been testing and working on different ways it might use the TikTok LIVE feature to generate engagements.

Engadget reported – Perhaps someone at TikTok got really into HQ Trivia at one point – the platform has announced a very similar-sounding live trivia challenge with a $500,000 prize pool.

According to Engadget, there will be several rounds of multiple choice questions. You’ll need to get them all right to have a chance of a winning share of that session’s prize pot. Players who make it to the end will split $100,000.


U.S. Lawmakers Unveil Bill To Ban TikTok In The U.S.



A new bill from a bipartisan group of lawmakers, if passed, would ban TikTok in the U.S. after years of broad concern across the Trump and Biden administrations about potential Chinese government influence on the company, CNBC reported.

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has raised fears in the U.S. that Chinese government officials could gain access to U.S. user data under Chinese law that could compel the company to hand over information, CNBC reported. TikTok has insisted U.S. user data is safely stored outside of China, which it says would keep it out of reach of government officials.

According to CNBC, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. is in talks with the company about how to resolve some of the data concerns, though a solution has reportedly been delayed. FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress that he’s “extremely concerned” about the Chinese government’s potential influence through TikTok on U.S. users.

Senator Marco Rubio (Republican – Florida) introduced bipartisan legislation to ban TikTok from operating in the United States. U.S. Representatives Mike Gallagher (Republican – Wisconsin) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (Democrat – Illinois) included companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The legislation is titled: “Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act (ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act)”. The description of the legislation states that it would protect Americans by blocking and prohibiting all transactions from any social media company in, or under the influence of, China, Russia, and several other foreign countries of concern.

ArsTechnica reported that the ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act is designed to block and prohibit all transactions by social media companies controlled or influenced by “countries of concern.” The legislation specifically names TikTok and owner ByteDance as existing as national security threats.

According to ArsTechnica, if the legislation is passed, its provisions would also extend to any social media platform controlled by other U.S. foreign adversaries, including Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela.

Engadget reported that while the sponsors of the bill characterize the measure as bipartisan, it’s not clear the call for a TikTok ban has enough support to clinch the necessary votes and reach Biden’s desk. To some degree, Engadget wrote, the ANTI-SOCIAL CPP Act is more a signal of intent than a practical way to block TikTok.

There is no way to know, for certain, whether or not this bill will become law. Personally, I think it is a good idea to prevent lawmakers from having TikTok on their devices, especially if there are valid concerns about TikTok collecting data through its app.


Texas Bans TikTok On Government Devices



Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday ordered state agencies to ban TikTok on government-issued devices, citing security concerns of the app’s data-sharing practices with the Chinese Government, The Guardian reported.

“TikTok harvests vast amounts of data from its users’ devices – including when, where and how they conduct Internet activity – and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government,” according to one of the letters the governor sent to state agency leaders.

“While TikTok has claimed that it stores US data within the US, the company admitted in a letter to Congress that China-based employees can have access to US data. It has also been reported that ByteDance planned to use TikTok location information to surveil individual American citizens,” it added.

According to The Guardian, the letter also cited China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law, stating that businesses are required to assist China in intelligence work including data sharing. It recounted that TikTok’s algorithm had already censored topics politically sensitive to the Chinese Communist Party, including the Tiananmen Square protests.

Texas isn’t the only state that has become wary of TikTok. The New York Times reported that Indiana’s attorney general on Wednesday sued the Chinese-owned app TikTok for deceiving users about China’s access to their data and for exposing children to mature content, in the first state lawsuits against the popular video service.

According to The New York Times, Todd Rokita, Indiana’s attorney general, claimed that TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, violated state consumer protection laws by failing to disclose the Chinese government’s ability to tap sensitive consumer information. His office said in a separate complaint that TikTok deceived young users and their parents with its age rating of 12-plus in Apple’s and Google’s app stores, when in fact inappropriate sexual and substance-related content can be easily found are are pushed by the company to children using the app.

The Hill reported that both of the lawsuits from Indiana and Texas seek to prevent TikTok from continuing its allegedly deceptive practices and demand civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.

Texas and Indiana aren’t the only states who are cracking down on TikTok. The Guardian reported that governor Abbott’s orders follow in the footsteps of Maryland governor Larry Hogan, who on Tuesday also ordered the ban of TikTok and several other China and Russia-based platforms in the state’s executive government branch. Wisconsin’s Republican representatives in Congress on Tuesday called for governor Tony Evers to delete TikTok from all state government devices, calling it a national security threat.

The Verge reported that Republican governors North Dakota and South Dakota have also banned the use of TikTok on governmental devices. The Army, Navy, and Departments of Homeland Security and State have also banned use of the app on government-issued devices.

In short, it appears that several states have started banning TikTok on government devices, and two states have filed lawsuits against TikTok. My advice to content creators who primarily post on TikTok is to find a different platform to post their videos on, just in case TikTok gets banned.


TikTok Raises Age Requirement For Going LIVE



TikTok is updating its livestream system to limit kids from going live and to allow streamers to only reach adults, The Verge reported. According to The Verge, TikTok currently has allowed those 16 and older to stream live. The company is changing that to 18 and older.

TikTok posted news titled: “Enhancing the LIVE community experience with new features, updates, and policies” (On October 17). It includes the following:

The foundation of TikTok is built on community trust and safety. To protect our users and creators and support their well-being, we constantly work to evolve the safeguards we put in place. Today, we’re making additional changes and improvements to help our community have the best experience possible when they use LIVE.

Currently, people must be 16 or over to host a LIVE. From November 23, the minimum age will increase from 16 to 18. As we consider the breadth of our global audience, we already take a graduated approach to the features that our community can access based on their age; younger teens need to be 16 or older to access Direct Messaging and 18 or older to send virtual gifts or access monetization features.

This news might be disappointing to TikTok users who are not yet 18-years-old. They will, eventually, gain access to the LIVE feature when they get older. Waiting two years (or more) for access might seem like a very long time, though.

There is another change TikTok is making that could perhaps have influenced why they are limiting LIVE to those who are 18 or older. From TikTok’s news:

In addition, in the coming weeks, we plan to introduce a new way for creators to choose if they’d prefer to only reach an adult audience in their LIVE. For instance, perhaps a comedy routine is better suited for people over age 18. Or, a host may plan to talk about a difficult live experience and they would feel more comfortable knowing the conversation is limited to adults. We want our community to make the most of the opportunities LIVE can bring without compromising safety. We believe these industry-leading updates can further protect the younger members of our community as they start and build their online presence.

To be clear, it does not sound as though TikTok is expecting people to turn their LIVE into something like OnlyFans. I suspect some people might attempt to do that, though. As such, it makes a lot of sense for TikTok to prevent people under the age of 18 from accessing LIVE, while also giving the adults on TikTok a way to weed out those who are underage from watching their LIVE.