- China revised a law on Friday that it had not changed since 2008 in an attempt to stop TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, from selling the app to a foreign company without the Chinese government’s permission.
- ByteDance announced Sunday that it would “strictly abide” by the new law.
- CNBC reported that ByteDance has agreed to a deal and that the details of that agreement could be made available as soon as Tuesday; however, China’s new rule could complicate any potential deal.
China’s Revises Law Ahead of TikTok Deal
A new law in China could potentially complicate or even halt the sale of TikTok to an American company.
On Friday, the Chinese government revised its rules around the sale of certain types of technology to foreign buyers in an attempt to “formalize the management of technology export” and “protect national security.”
The list of changes includes data processing, speech, and text recognition — all tech that TikTok uses in its app.
China’s rule change never directly mentions TikTok or even its parent company, ByteDance, but this is the first time those rules have been revised since 2008. The change would likely require ByteDance to obtain government permission before selling TikTok to a foreign company.
Speaking to state-run news agency Xinhua, trade expert Cui Fan said that ByteDance should “seriously and carefully consider whether it is necessary to suspend substantive negotiations on relevant transactions.”
“For the international business to continue to operate smoothly, no matter who its new owner and operator are,” Cui told the agency, “it is highly likely that there will need to be a transfer of software codes or right of use from inside China to outside China.”
According to Bloomberg News, it could take up to 30 days for ByteDance to get the green light to export AI.
Why Did China Change the Rules?
China doubled down on criticism of the United States Monday by accusing the U.S. government of “abusing the national security concept and state power to suppress specific businesses of other countries.”
“The U.S.’s attempt to take economic bullying and political manipulation against non-American companies, whether it is politically coerced transaction or government enforced transaction, is no different from plundering,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said.
In an interview with CNN Business, Anupam Chander, a law professor at Georgetown University, said that the law change is essentially a way for China “to exert some leverage over the situation.”
“Beijing wants to protect its ascending status in global technology,” Political economist Shirley Yu also told the outlet.
Yu added that if the U.S. were to succeed in buying TikTok, “China would be concerned that, as its technology companies continue to ascend, more Chinese companies… might be targeted by the United States in a similar way.”
TikTok Bidder Has Reportedly Been Chosen
ByteDance responded Sunday by announcing that it will “strictly abide” by China’s rule change.
There has been massive anticipation for a deal to be reached. On Monday, CNBC reported that a bidder has been chosen for TikTok’s U.S., New Zealand, and Australian businesses. According to sources who spoke to the outlet, that deal could be announced as soon as Tuesday.
That follows a similar report from Fox Business that later turned out to be inaccurate. On Friday, Fox predicted that confirmation of a signed and binding deal to purchase U.S. assets of TikTok could have come as early as this past weekend.
Still, the deadline for ByteDance to reach a deal in the U.S. is rapidly approaching. On August 14, President Donald Trump signed an order requiring ByteDance to divest away from U.S. TikTok operations within 90 days. If that doesn’t happen, the app could essentially be banned in the U.S.
“There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance… might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States,” the president said in the order.
TikTok has repeatedly denied that claim, saying that U.S. user data is stored domestically with a backup in Singapore. It’s also affirmed that its data centers for U.S. users are located outside of China.
According to analysts, there are currently two front-runners in the race to acquire TikTok: the software company Oracle, as well as Microsoft, which has now teamed up with Walmart.
Over the weekend, reports surfaced that TikTok’s rival-app, Triller, had submitted a $20 billion bid for the company; however, there has been ample confusion since, as a spokesperson for TikTok later denied that claim.
“We can confirm that we are not and will not be in talks with them,” the spokesperson said. “Still, we are flattered by how much they admire TikTok.”
On Monday, Triller Executive Chair Bobby Sarnevesht denied that Triller’s claim was part of a publicity stunt and affirmed that the company had submitted a bid to buy TikTok.
“Our bid is submitted,” he said to CNBC. “We have confirmation that the chairman and people pretty high up at ByteDance are aware of it. And we have correspondence going. I know they are considering what the next step is to do.”
Following his comments, ByteDance and TikTok again said refuted the claim, saying that they are unaware of any such bid and that no one from either company has even spoken to Triller on the matter.
Experts expect the winning bidder to shell out anywhere from $20 to $30 billion for TikTok.
See what others are saying: (CNN Business) (CNBC) (The Verge)
TikTok and Twitter Are Now Deleting Videos That Expose Closeted Olympians on Grindr
On top of outing people who may not be ready to have their sexuality revealed to the world, these videos could have endangered LGBTQ+ athletes from countries where homosexuality is illegal.
Closeted Olympians Being Doxxed
Openly LGBTQ+ Olympians are currently more visible than they have ever been before, but unfortunately, so are closeted ones.
That’s because some people have been using the LGBTQ+ dating app Grindr to try and find Olympians. They’ve been doing so by using the app’s “Explore” feature, which allows people to search and see users in specific locations (ie. Olympic Village).
But some aren’t content with just discovering which athletes belong to the LGBTQ+ community. They’re also sharing that information on platforms like TikTok and Twitter.
“I used Grindr’s explore feature to find myself [an] Olympian boyfriend,” one TikTok user said in a post that had been viewed 140,000 times, according to Insider.
That video reportedly went on to show the poster scrolling through Grindr to expose over 30 users’ full faces.
As many have argued, not only does this potentially out already-stressed Olympians who may not yet be comfortable sharing their sexuality, it also could put some users at serious risk if they live in countries where being LGBTQ+ is illegal.
In fact, the video cited by Insider seemingly did just that, as it reportedly shows the face of a user who appears to be from a country “known for its anti-LGBTQ policies.”
Grindr Responds, TikTok and Twitter Take Action
In response, Grindr said the posts violate its rules against “publicly displaying, publishing, or otherwise distributing any content or information” from the app. It then asked the posters to remove the content.
Ultimately, it was TikTok and Twitter themselves that largely took action, with the two deleting at least 14 posts scattered across their platforms.
Twitter says it’s taking steps to remove the posts flagged by Insider showing Grindr’s explore page at the Olympic Village. TikTok has yet to give an on the record response. pic.twitter.com/r11pNL6Lwu— Benjamin Goggin (@BenjaminGoggin) July 28, 2021
A Highly-Visible LGBTQ+ Presence at the Games
According to Outsports, at least 172 of around 11,000 Olympians are openly LGBTQ+. While that number is still well below the statistical average, it’s triple the number of LGBTQ+ athletes that attended Rio’s 2016 Games.
In fact, if they were their own country, openly LGBTQ+ athletes would reportedly rank 11th in medals, according to an Outsports report published Tuesday.
Among those winners is British diver Tom Daley, who secured his first gold medal on Monday and used his platform to send a hopeful message to LGBTQ+ youth by telling them, “You are not alone.”
After winning a silver medal on Wednesday, U.S. swimmer Erica Sullivan talked about her experience as both a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a person of color.
Still, the Olympics has faced criticism for its exclusion of intersex individuals, particularly those like South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya, who won gold medals in both 2012 and 2016. Rules implemented in 2019 now prevent Semenya from competing as a woman without the use of medication to suppress her testosterone levels.
Jake Paul Launches Anti-Bullying Charity
The charity, called Boxing Bullies, aims to use the sport to give kids confidence and courage.
Jake Paul Launches Boxing Bullies Foundation
YouTuber Jake Paul — best known as the platform’s boxer, wreckless partier, and general troublemaker — has seemingly launched a non-profit to combat bullying.
The charity is called Boxing Bullies. According to a mission statement posted on Instagram, it aims to “instill self confidence, leadership, and courage within the youth through the sport of boxing while using our platform, voice, and social media to fight back against bullying.”
If the notion of a Paul-founded anti-bullying charity called “Boxing Bullies” was not already begging to be compared to former First Lady Melania Trump’s “Best Best” initiative, maybe the group’s “Boxing Bullies Commandments” will help connect the dots. Those commandments use an acronym for the word “BOX” to spell out the charity’s golden rules.
“Be kind to everyone; Only defend, never initiate; X-out bullying.”
Paul Hopes To “Inspire” Kids To Stand Up For Themselves
Paul first said he was launching Boxing Bullies during a July 13 interview following a press conference for his upcoming fight against Tyron Woodley.
“I know who I am at the end of the day, which is a good person,” he told reporters. “I’m trying to change this sport, bring more eyeballs. I’m trying to support other fighters, increase fighter pay. I’m starting my charity, I’m launching that in 12 days here called Boxing Bullies and we’re helping to fight against cyberbullying.”
It has not been quite 12 days since the interview, so it’s likely that more information about the organization will be coming soon. Currently, the group has been the most active on Instagram, where it boasts a following of just around 1,200 followers. It has posted once to Twitter, where it has 32 followers; and has a TikTok account that has yet to publish any content. It also has a website, though there is not too much on it as of yet.
On its Instagram, one post introducing Paul as the founder claims the rowdy YouTuber started this charity because he has been on the receiving end of bullying.
“Having been a victim of bullying himself, Jake experienced firsthand the impact it has on a person’s life,” the post says. “Jake believes that this is a prevailing issue in society that isn’t talked about enough. Boxing gave Jake the confidence to not care about what others think and he wants to share the sport and the welfare it‘s had on him with as many kids as possible.”
It adds that he hopes his group can“inspire the next generation of kids to be leaders, be athletes, and to fight back against bullying.”
Paul Previously Accused of Being a Bully
While fighting against bullying is a noble cause, it is an ironic project for Paul to start, as he has faced no shortage of bullying accusations. While Paul previously sang about “stopping kids from getting bullied” in the lunchroom, some have alleged he himself was actually a classic high school bully who threw kids’ backpacks into garbage cans.
This behavior allegedly continued into his adulthood, as a New York Times report from earlier this year claimed he ran his Team 10 house with a culture of toxicity and bullying. Among other things, sources said he involved others in violent pranks, pressured people into doing dangerous stunts, and destroyed peoples’ personal property to make content.
See what others are saying: (Dexerto)
Director Defends Recreating Anthony Bourdain’s Voice With AI in New Documentary
The film’s director claims he received permission from Bourdain’s estate and literary agent, but on Thursday, Bourdain’s widow publicly denied ever giving that permission.
Bourdain’s Voice Recreated
“You are successful, and I am successful, and I’m wondering: Are you happy?” Anthony Bourdain says in a voiceover featured in “Roadrunnner,” a newly released documentary about the late chef — except Bourdain never actually said those words aloud.
Instead, it’s one of three lines in the film, which features frequent voiceovers from Bourdain, that were created through the use of artificial intelligence technology.
That said, the words are Bourdain’s own. In fact, they come from an email Bourdain reportedly wrote to a friend prior to his 2018 suicide. Nonetheless, many have now questioned whether recreating Bourdain’s voice was ethical, especially since documentaries are meant to reflect reality.
Director Defends Use of AI Voice
The film’s director, Academy Award winner Morgan Neville, has defended his use of the synthetic voice, telling Variety that he received permission from Bourdain’s estate and literary agent before inserting the lines into the film.
“There were a few sentences that Tony wrote that he never spoke aloud,” Neville said. “It was a modern storytelling technique that I used in a few places where I thought it was important to make Tony’s words come alive.”
Bourdain’s widow — Ottavia Bourdain, who is the executor of his estate — later denied Neville’s claim on Twitter, saying, “I certainly was NOT the one who said Tony would have been cool with that.”
In another interview with GQ, Neville described the process, saying the film’s creators “fed more than ten hours of Tony’s voice into an AI model.”
“The bigger the quantity, the better the result,” he added. “We worked with four companies before settling on the best.”
“If you watch the film,” Neville told The New Yorker, “you probably don’t know what the other lines are that were spoken by the AI, and you’re not going to know. We can have a documentary-ethics panel about it later.”
The Ethics Debate Isn’t Being Tabled
But many want to have that discussion now.
Boston-based film critic Sean Burns, who gave the film a rare negative review, later criticized it again for its unannounced use of AI, saying he wasn’t aware that Bourdain’s voice had been recreated until after he watched the documentary.
Meanwhile, The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner wrote that the “seamlessness of the effect is eerie.”
“If it had been a human voice double I think the reaction would be “huh, ok,” but there’s something truly unsettling about the idea of it coming from a computer,” Rosner later tweeted.
Online, many others have criticized the film’s use of AI, with some labeling it as a “deepfake.”
Others have offered more mixed criticism, saying that while the documentary highlights the need for posthumous AI use to be disclosed, it should not be ruled out altogether.
“In a world where the living could consent to using AI to reproduce their voices posthumously, and where people were made aware that such a technology was being used, up front and in advance, one could envision that this kind of application might serve useful documentary purposes,” David Leslie, ethics lead at the Alan Turing Institute, told the BBC.
Celebrities Recreated After Death
The posthumous use of celebrity likeness in media is not a new debate. In 2012, a hologram of Tupac took the stage 15 years after his death. In 2014, the Billboard Music Awards brought a hologram of Michael Jackson onstage five years after his death. Meanwhile, the Star Wars franchise digitally recreated actor Peter Cushing in 2016’s “Rogue One,” and unused footage of actress Carrie Fisher was later translated into “The Rise of Skywalker,” though a digital version of Fisher was never used.
In recent years, it has become almost standard for filmmakers to say that they will not create digital versions of characters whose actors die unexpectedly. For example, several months after Chadwick Boseman’s death last year, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” executive producer Victoria Alonso confirmed Boseman would not be digitally recreated for his iconic role as King T’Challa.