- 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)
Schools Across the U.S. Cancel Classes Friday Over Unverified TikTok Threat
Officials in multiple states said they haven’t found any credible threats but are taking additional precautions out of an abundance of safety.
Schools in no fewer than 10 states either canceled classes or increased their police presence on Friday after a series of TikToks warned of imminent shooting and bombs threats.
Despite that, officials said they found little evidence to suggest the threats are credible. It’s possible no real threat was actually ever made as it’s unclear if the supposed threats originated on TikTok, another social media platform, or elsewhere.
“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” TikTok’s Communications team tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Still, given the uptick of school shootings in the U.S. in recent years, many school districts across the country decided to respond to the rumors. According to The Verge, some districts in California, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas shut down Friday.
“Based on law enforcement interviews, Little Falls Community Schools was specifically identified in a TikTok post related to this threat,” one school district in Minnesota said in a letter Thursday. “In conversations with local law enforcement, the origins of this threat remain unknown. Therefore, school throughout the district is canceled tomorrow, Friday, December 17.”
In Gilroy, California, one high school that closed its doors Friday said it would reschedule final exams that were expected to take place the same day to January.
According to the Associated Press, several other districts in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania stationed more police officers at their schools Friday.
Viral Misinformation or Legitimate Warnings?
As The Verge notes, “The reports of threats on TikTok may be self-perpetuating.”
For example, many of the videos online may have been created in response to initial warnings as more people hopped onto the trend. Amid school cancellations, videos have continued to sprout up — many awash with both rumors and factual information.
“I’m scared off my ass, what do I do???” one TikTok user said in a now-deleted video, according to People.
“The post is vague and not directed at a specific school, and is circulating around school districts across the country,” Chicago Public Schools said in a letter, though it did not identify any specific post. “Please do not re-share any suspicious or concerning posts on social media.”
According to Dr. Amy Klinger, the director of programs for the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network, “This is not 2021 phenomenon.”
Instead, she told The Today Show that her network has been tracking school shooting threats since 2013, and she noted that in recent years, they’ve become more prominent on social media.
“It’s not just somebody in a classroom of 15 people hearing someone make a threat,” she said. “It’s 15,000 people on social media, because it gets passed around and it becomes larger and larger and larger.”
Jake Paul Says He “Can’t Get Cancelled” as a Boxer
The controversial YouTuber opened up about what it has been like to go from online fame to professional boxing.
The New Yorker Profiles Jake Paul
YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul talked about his career switch, reputation, and cancel culture in a profile published Monday in The New Yorker.
While Paul rose to fame as the Internet’s troublemaker, he now spends most of his time in the ring. He told the outlet that one difference between YouTube and boxing is that his often controversial reputation lends better to his new career.
“One thing that is great about being a fighter is, like, you can’t get cancelled,” Paul said. The profile noted that the sport often rewards and even encourages some degree of bad behavior.
“I’m not a saint,” Paul later continued. “I’m also not a bad guy, but I can very easily play the role.”
Paul also said the other difference between his time online and his time in boxing is the level of work. While he says he trains hard, he confessed that there was something more challenging about making regular YouTube content.
“Being an influencer was almost harder than being a boxer,” he told The New Yorker. “You wake up in the morning and you’re, like, Damn, I have to create fifteen minutes of amazing content, and I have twelve hours of sunlight.”
Jake Paul Vs. Tommy Fury
The New Yorker profile came just after it was announced over the weekend Paul will be fighting boxer Tommy Fury in an 8-round cruiserweight fight on Showtime in December.
“It’s time to kiss ur last name and ur family’s boxing legacy goodbye,” Paul tweeted. “DEC 18th I’m changing this wankers name to Tommy Fumbles and celebrating with Tom Brady.”
Both Paul and Fury are undefeated, according to ESPN. Like Paul, Fury has found fame outside of the sport. He has become a reality TV star in the U.K. after appearing on the hit show “Love Island.”
See what others are saying: (The New Yorker) (Dexerto) (ESPN)
Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos
The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.
Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws.
For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform.
The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.
It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end.
The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions.
First Twitch Hack
Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.
That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019.
It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.
Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already.