- Early Monday, TikTok announced that it would be leaving the Hong Kong market over fears regarding China’s new national security law, which would require the company to hand over user data.
- Later in the day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News that the U.S. is “looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok.
- The Chinese-owned app has long been accused of giving data to the Chinese Communist Party, which it has repeatedly denied.
- If put in place, an American ban would just be the latest national-restriction against TikTok. India banned the app on July 1 over similar fears that it gave away user data to Chinese authorities.
Could TikTok Face an American Ban?
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News Monday night that the United States was “looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including the popular video-sharing app TikTok.
When speaking to host Laura Ingraham about potential plans to restrict the app, Pompeo said, “We’re taking this very seriously, but we’re certainly looking at it. We’ve worked on this very issue for a long time.”
“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cellphones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too,” he added.
Despite his claims, there haven’t been any concrete efforts made public yet. Still, when asked if he’d recommend for people to download TikTok, the Secretary of State replied, “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
TikTok has adamantly claimed that despite its parent company ByteDance being based in China, TikTok itself isn’t controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, nor does it have deep ties with the party.
The app claims that the executives and managers who actually make decisions about its business and make its content rules are all outside of China. The company also states that Chinese authorities have no say in what is and isn’t allowed on the app, and lastly, that user data isn’t stored in China.
American authorities doubt these claims, as the company is owned by ByteDance, which is based in China and like most large Chinese companies, is thought to have close ties to the ruling Communist Party. Adding to the fuel that TikTok complies with Chinese authorities is the fact that ByteDance also owns its sister company, Douyin, which is essentially a Chinese version of TikTok.
A U.S. ban would be a massive loss for the company, which is home to some of its biggest creators. The app has also faced hurdles in India, where a ban went into effect on July 1 that blocked TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps. The nation of over 1 billion is among its largest markets.
Australia has also floated the idea of banning the platform over concerns it inappropriately shares data with the Chinese government.
Pulling Out of Hong Kong
Aside from promising that it isn’t controlled by Chinese authorities, TikTok has also made recent moves to distance itself from the country. Hours before Pompeo spoke to Fox News, TikTok announced that it would be pulling out of the Hong Kong market over fears about a sweeping national security law imposed on the city by China on June 29.
According to TikTok, the app would be inoperable within Hong Kong in a few days. Additionally, it wouldn’t process data requests from China or Hong Kong police, although some current residents already say they can’t download the app.
Hong Kong authorities used the new national security law to release strict new rules regarding online posts. If police suspect an “electronic message” endangers “national security,” they can ask the publisher, platform, host, or network provider to remove or restrict access to it. Those who publish messages and don’t comply face a $100,000 fine and upwards of six months in jail.
Users who actually make the posts face a similar fine and up to a year in jail.
According to multiple reports, the rules explicitly allow authorities to jail employees at internet companies that don’t reply, regardless if they’re based in Hong Kong or not. It should be noted that punishment would only be applicable if one was to actually travel to Hong Kong or China, as most nations wouldn’t comply with another country claiming extraterritorial authority.
However, it still puts companies in an awkward position; comply with Chinese authorities and face backlash for caving on free speech, or disregard the rules and potentially risk employee safety and losing market access.
It wasn’t just TikTok that responded to the new rules, other tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Twitter all said they would temporarily halt data requests from Hong Kong authorities as they decide what to do in the long run. All three had spokespeople and statements that were remarkably similar.
A Facebook spokesperson told Reuters, “We are pausing the review of government requests for user data from Hong Kong pending further assessment of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with international human rights experts.”
“We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and support the right of people to express themselves without fear for their safety or other repercussions,” the statement continued.
Even though at face value it may seem like a hollow gesture, considering the fact that these companies are banned in China, it’s actually a big risk to a massive revenue stream. All three of those companies have major advertiser programs in China.
While they debate whether to comply with the law or not, it’s interesting to note that TikTok went further than the rest by actually pulling services out of the city. That might be because Hong Kong wasn’t a huge market for the company.
It consistently lost them money and only about 150,000 Hong Kongers used the app. Another facet that may limit the impact of “losing” Hong Kong is that TikTok’s sister app, Douyin, is still usable and popular in Hong Kong, despite not officially being available in the city.
See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (The New York Times) (CNN)
Mr Beast Defends Charli and Dixie D’Amelio Following Tournament Win Backlash
- Mr Beast held a trivia tournament Saturday where creators competed against each other for $300,000 to give to their fans.
- Charli and Dixie D’Amelio won the competition, however, many accused them of having an unfair advantage because they were allowed to compete as a team and had their parent’s beside them as well.
- Some online even suggested that the family may have been cheating through the use of phones or people off-camera.
- Mr Beast said fans should be mad at him, not the family, since it was his decision to allow multiple people on a team. Still, he noted that the tournament was just for fun and promised to make teams equal in future competitions.
Mr Beast Hosts Creator Tournament
Internet users lashed out at TikTok stars Charli and Dixie D’Amelio on Saturday, accusing them of cheating in YouTuber Mr Beast’s trivia competition.
Mr Beast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, held his latest influencer tournament that same day, following the success of his Rock Paper Scissors charity steam earlier this year. During the trivia event, 24 creators competed against one another for $300,000 to give to their fans.
Contestants included the likes of Addison Rae, Bretman Rock, KSI, Safiya Nygaard, Jaiden Animations, and tons of others, with the D’Amelio sisters ultimately being declared the winners.
However, many were unhappy with that, saying they cheated and had an unfair advantage. This is because the sisters were allowed to compete as a team and also brought their parents along with them.
It is worth noting that only Dixie competed in the final round of trivia against comic book artist and YouTuber ZHC. Still, many felt like the 4 on 1 match-ups weren’t fair and even suggested that the family was cheating through the use of phones or people off-screen.
Not just that my guy, they were using phones pic.twitter.com/cJmYlLQps4— mbdtf (@saintmankind) October 18, 2020
Mr Beast Defends D’Amelio Family
Mr Beast eventually had to try and diffuse the situation after seeing the family faced a slew of backlash online.
“I see some people mad that I let multiple people compete on a single team in the trivia tournament!” he wrote. “Honestly, the tournament was just for fun and to bring the community together and I’d appreciate if you were to get mad at anyone, get mad at me. It was my decision lol”
“The criticism is noted and I’ll definitely keep all the teams the same size next time! 100% my b Red heart,” he continued.
Fellow YouTubers expressed a similar sentiment about the competition being all for fun, with the money ultimately going to fans in need.
Tana Mongeau’s “Booty for Biden” Promotion Sparks Legal Concerns
- YouTube star Tana Mongeau has come under fire for offering nude photos to fans who proved they voted for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
- Some said it could be considered vote buying, which is a felony. Others said it encourages fans to take ballot selfies as proof, which are illegal in several states.
- Mongeau eventually added, “by proof I just meant tell me,” before ultimately deleting the post and writing, “in all seriousness if you can vote please do.”
- She did, however, claim that she received “tens of thousands of messages” from people telling her they voted for Biden.
Tana Launches #BootyForBiden Campaign
YouTuber Tana Mongeau promised to send nudes to Joe Biden supporters on Wednesday as part of her “Booty for Biden” campaign, which has now raised legal concerns.
Mongeau advertised the strategy in a Tweet, writing: “if you send me proof u voted for Biden I’ll send you a nude for free.”
That post, of course, was accompanied by a link to her OnlyFans page and the hashtag #bootyforbiden. However, the problem is that people said she was breaking the law and asking her fans to do the same.
Some say what she did could be considered vote buying, which is a felony punishable by a fine and up to two years behind bars. Because she was asking fans for proof of their vote, others said she was also encouraging ballot selfies, which are illegal in several states.
Tana Deletes Post
Mongeau eventually clarified what she meant by proof, saying, “I just meant tell me.”
She then ended up deleting her initial offer altogether, following up with, “in all seriousness if you can vote please do… not voting is voting and the world is scary.”
It’s unclear what the response to her post was like on her end, but she did later claim that her campaign “broke Tana Uncensored,” in an Instagram post that featured a NSFW photo of her with the Democratic candidates face photoshopped over hers.
“Tana Uncensored messages are broken, and the point has been made: I got tens of thousands of messages of people telling me that they willingly voted for Joe Biden,” Mongeau added in an Instagram Story.
“It’s the best thing ever. You don’t need my ass to make you go vote. So go vote because you wanna see a change in this country just like me, and thank you to everyone who joined me today. Booty for Biden.”
For now, it seems like the YouTuber is trying to join the list of stars encouraging their fans to vote, but the way she’s been doing it might be a problem.
Tana Loses YouTube Verification
Reports surfaced this weekend pointing out that Mongeau has just lost her YouTube verification check. As of now, there’s no confirmed reason, evidence, or explanation for this, but some internet users and media outlets are suggesting it could have to do with the controversy.
Neither Mongeau nor the platform has commented on the verification change so it’s tough to say if they are connected.
Meanwhile, fans online are offering up other explanations, saying it could be because she changed her name back from Tana Paul to Tana Mongeau.
It’s because she changed her name to Tana Paul and back to Tana Mongeau. I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been verified since she changed it.— POCHAMA MIA (@NickPochama) October 4, 2020
See what others are saying: (TMZ) (Cosmopolitan) (Daily Dot)
How Snapchat, Kylie Jenner, and David Dobrik Are Helping Boost U.S. Voter Registrations
- Snapchat has helped more than 1 million people register to vote through an in-app feature.
- According to the company, about 56% of people who registered to vote through the app this year are first-time voters, and about 65% are voters ages 18 to 24.
- On top of that, Snapchat also had large amounts of users registering in historically red or battleground states, including Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.
- Massive stars like Kylie Jenner and David Dobrik also caught attention this week for encouraging voter registration.
- Jenner did so with bikini photos that directed fans to vote.org, meanwhile, Dobrik did so by launching a Tesla giveaway that requires participants to check their voter registration status.
Snapchat Helps Register Over 1 Million Voters
Snapchat said Thursday that is has helped more than 1 million people register to vote through its in-app tool. The move aligns with several recent pushes encouraging voter registration from both companies and notable public figures.
More than half of the 1 million who registered through the social media platform did so in less than a month, the company added.
While the numbers are less than the 2.5 million who have signed up through Facebook, they’re still incredibly important and impressive.
Experts also find them particularly interesting because Snapchat reaches much younger audiences, which could play a huge role in affecting the outcomes in certain areas.
Snapchat said about 56% of people who registered to vote through the app this year are first-time voters and about 65% are voters ages 18 to 24, a Snapchat spokesperson estimated.
On top of that, the company also had large amounts of users registering in historically red or battleground states.
The company says it saw more signups to register in Texas than in any other state, with some of the largest additions coming from Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.
Aside from the in-app registration tool, Snapchat had already been working to helping inform its users about voting with public service announcements from lawmakers in both parties, as well as celebrities and influencers.
In the weeks leading up to the election, Snapchat says it will continue sending reminders to users about early voting deadlines in their states and will ensure that information and news in the app is accurate.
Kylie Jenner and David Dobrik Boost Voter Registration
However, it’s not just social media platforms working to boost voter registration ahead of the election. A ton of big-name celebrities and influencers have been their platforms to do the same.
One unique approach came from none other than Kylie Jenner. She took to Instagram on Monday to post some bikini pics for her 196 million followers, captioning the post: “but are you registered to vote? click the link in my bio.. let’s make a plan to vote together.”
That link directs users to Vote.org, where users can check their voter registration status. According to a TMZ report Wednesday, the thirst trap resulted in “nearly 50,000 potential new registered voters.”
The article went on to say that Vote.org saw a 1500% boost from traffic driven via Instagram, and got over an 80% increase in total users of its voter registration and verification tool from the prior day.
TMZ says all translates to more than 48,000 users going to the site through Kylie’s post.
Those numbers, of course, are likely still rising.
Another massive star encouraging voter registration this week was YouTube’s own David Dobrik.
He’s partnered with HeadCount, a nonpartisan nonprofit that promotes voter registration, and together they’re giving away five brand new Tesla Model 3s.
View this post on Instagram
Hi!! HeadCount and I are giving away 5 Teslas to you guys!! All you have to do is share this to your story, tag a friend in the comments and make sure you’re good to vote at my link in bio!! Winners will be announced Monday. Good luck!! @headcountorg No purchase or reg necessary. Exclusions apply. Terms and conditions here:http://bit.ly/345p93f #join2020vote #GoodToVote
In order to win, participants must check to see that they are registered to vote on the HeadCount website.
Voter registration is not necessary, but participants will have the opportunity to register if they haven’t yet. The contest started midday Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning, HeadCount has said the campaign has been a record-shattering success.
It generated 10,000 new voter registrations within the first hour of launch and allowed 23,000 people to verify that they had already registered within that same time frame.
On Wednesday morning, HeadCount also said the numbers for registrations and verifications had reached 82,000 and 212,000, respectively, which makes this the organization’s largest campaign to date.
By Thursday, the numbers hit 100,000 new registrations and 250,000 verifications, with the HeadCount saying on Instagram, “This is unprecedented in the entire history of celebrity-led voter engagement campaigns.“
“It’s extra inspiring to know that David is a “Dreamer” (DACA recipient) who can’t vote in the U.S, but has used his platform to help others make their voice heard. A true act of patriotism if there ever was one.“
Of course, that number too is expected to get even higher in the coming days. The contest closes at 11:59 p.m ET on Sunday, October 4th. The winners will be randomly selected and announced Monday.
Like in Snapchat’s case, this campaign will no doubt have an impact on younger audiences because Dobrik’s fanbase consists of Gen Z and Millenials. HeadCount says those groups make up 37% of all eligible voters, though they are drastically under-registered.