Instagram Creators Launch Artifact, Called a ‘TikTok for Text’

Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are back with a personalized news feed called Artifact that that uses artificial intelligence to pattern users’ interests and the friends that most likely want to discuss them with you. The new app — whose name combines articles, facts and artificial intelligence — opened a public waiting list this week and is available on iOS and Android. The Verge calls it “TikTok for text,” adding that “you might also call it Google Reader reborn as a mobile app or maybe even a surprise attack on Twitter.” Continue reading Instagram Creators Launch Artifact, Called a ‘TikTok for Text’

BuzzFeed Eyes a Future Collaborating with Meta and OpenAI

BuzzFeed stock jumped last week as news of collaborative efforts with Meta Platforms and OpenAI began circulating. The New York-based digital media firm famous for viral content said it is using OpenAI’s artificial intelligence to enhance lists, quizzes and other content. Meanwhile, a 2022 deal valued at close to $10 million with Meta Platforms is seeing results as BuzzFeed trains creators to expand their online presence and generate content for Meta’s social platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. BuzzFeed shares, which were trading at under $1 through January, rose to $3.87 in after-hours trading on Friday. Continue reading BuzzFeed Eyes a Future Collaborating with Meta and OpenAI

TikTok On the Offense in Battle to Protect Its U.S. Operations

TikTok is taking a proactive stance to quash U.S. government concerns that user data might be collected and exploited by China, where the viral video platform’s parent, ByteDance, is based. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew made the rounds in Washington last week, sharing with think tanks and public interest groups his plan to prevent data on Americans from being transmitted out of the country. The strategy marks a shift for TikTok, which kept a low profile during attacks by the Trump administration and continuing pressure under President Biden. Chew is now scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about security and privacy. Continue reading TikTok On the Offense in Battle to Protect Its U.S. Operations

TikTok Is Accused of Manually ‘Heating’ Personalization Feed

The algorithm powering TikTok’s vaunted For You page is reportedly getting help from human collaborators. Although the personalized feed was said to be based on user interests and selections, “employees regularly engage in ‘heating,’ a manual push that ensures specific videos ‘achieve a certain number of video views,’ according to six sources and documents reviewed by Forbes.” What’s more, while the algorithm does have a say in what goes viral, staff at TikTok and ByteDance are also hand-picking specific videos to give preferential treatment, saturating their distribution throughout the user base. Continue reading TikTok Is Accused of Manually ‘Heating’ Personalization Feed

China and U.S. to Carry TikTok State-Controlled Media Labels

In a move to heighten transparency, TikTok will begin using its “state-controlled media” label in more than 40 new territories, including China and the U.S. Launched as a pilot program last year, the program identifies videos produced under government influence. Conceding there is no one-size-fits-all definition, TikTok says it considers media “state-controlled” when “there is evidence of clear editorial control and decision-making by members of the state.” The label was launched after Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, flagging state-controlled media in those countries and Belarus. Russian outlets TASS, Sputnik and the English-language RT are among those labeled. Continue reading China and U.S. to Carry TikTok State-Controlled Media Labels

Blizzard Entertainment to Suspend Game Access for NetEase

Activision Blizzard’s Blizzard Entertainment has hit an impasse with licensee NetEase and will as of next week be suspending “most Blizzard game services in mainland China due to the expiration” of current agreements. The arrangement encompasses popular titles such as “World of Warcraft,” “Hearthstone” and “Diablo III.” Blizzard has worked with Chinese video game publisher NetEase since 2008. “The two parties have not reached a deal to renew the agreements that is consistent with Blizzard’s operating principles and commitments to players and employees,” Blizzard said in a statement. Continue reading Blizzard Entertainment to Suspend Game Access for NetEase

TikTok Considers $1.5 Billion Plan to Quell Security Concerns

TikTok is in discussions with U.S. lawmakers about a $1.5 billion plan to reorganize its operations in order to provide more transparency and allay fears of Chinese spying and data manipulation. The talks have become more urgent in recent months as regulators at the federal and state level are threatening to ban the short-form video app on government-issued devices. TikTok parent ByteDance been negotiating with CFIUS, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. since 2019, when an investigation was opened following the Beijing-based media firm’s acquisition of Musical.ly, which it merged into TikTok. Continue reading TikTok Considers $1.5 Billion Plan to Quell Security Concerns

QuickVid Uses AI to Create Short Videos from Text Prompts

QuickVid is a new AI-driven text-to-video platform aiming for a mass market user base. The tool draws on various generative AI systems to automatically create short-form videos for YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and other platforms. Created by former Meta Platforms programmer Daniel Habib “in a matter of weeks,” QuickVid is quite rudimentary, though Habib says he plans to continue fine tuning and adding features. Unlike Google and Meta have done with their nascent text-to-video systems, QuickVid has bypassed the formalities of research papers and industry previews and jumped directly to a public-facing website. Continue reading QuickVid Uses AI to Create Short Videos from Text Prompts

Digital Ad Share for Meta, Alphabet to Drop Below 50 Percent

Insider Intelligence forecasts that 2023 will mark the first time since 2014 that the combined digital advertising market share for Meta Platforms and Alphabet will fall below 50 percent, indicating erosion of their “duopoly.” Projection of a 2.5 percent drop due to increased competition from rivals including Amazon, Apple, TikTok and Microsoft will put the pair at a projected 48.4 percent this year, according to the research group. While the trajectory is likely to garner negative media and investor attention, it is a plus from the perspective of fending off global antitrust attacks. Continue reading Digital Ad Share for Meta, Alphabet to Drop Below 50 Percent

Congress Intros Bills to Ban TikTok Due to Security Concerns

The U.S. House and Senate have introduced companion bills to ban TikTok and other apps that censor news, pose threats to the personal data of U.S. citizens and entities or engage in other surreptitious behaviors. The Senate bill, advanced by Marco Rubio (R-Florida) is called the ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act, an acronym for Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party. The related House bill has bipartisan support from Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois). Continue reading Congress Intros Bills to Ban TikTok Due to Security Concerns

Amazon Pushes into Social Shopping with Its Inspire Feature

Amazon is introducing Inspire, a feature that lets customers shop from a custom feed of videos and photos. Drawing comparisons to TikTok, Inspire is currently available to select U.S. users, with plans for a national rollout in the coming months. Inspire takes Amazon further into social shopping territory, where competitors Meta Platforms and Alphabet have followed TikTok and its parent ByteDance into the short-video shopping format. While the U.S. and Europe have failed to duplicate the astounding volume of China’s social shopping, Amazon — with a customer base in the hundreds of millions — could jump-start it. Continue reading Amazon Pushes into Social Shopping with Its Inspire Feature

U.S. States Rise Up Against TikTok Over Security Concerns

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s executive order banning TikTok from state agencies has added further fuel to Washington’s calls for an outright ban on the Chinese-owned short-form video platform. The South Dakota tourism department deleted its account and 60,000 followers, and the state’s public broadcasting service and six public universities are planning how to move forward. Nebraska in 2020 became the first U.S. state to implement a government agency TikTok ban. Now a movement seems to be gaining momentum, with South Carolina, Arkansas and Maryland at various stages of action in dealing with the perceived national security threat. Continue reading U.S. States Rise Up Against TikTok Over Security Concerns

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew Determined to Solve Data Issues

TikTok is taking steps to ensure U.S. user data is secure and that young people will be protected from harmful content, company CEO Shou Zi Chew said at The New York Times’ DealBook Summit. “We have very rigorous data-access protocols,” the executive said Wednesday, addressing concerns expressed by members of Congress and the Federal Trade Commission. Chew said TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, plans to work with Oracle as its data storage provider based in large part on the company’s strong security protocols. Continue reading TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew Determined to Solve Data Issues

Ireland DPC Fines Meta $275 Million for Data Privacy Breach

Meta Platforms has been fined $275 million for violating European Union privacy rules, the result of a 2021 data leak that led to the online publication of personal information belonging to 500 million Facebook users. The penalty is the latest imposed on Meta by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, which in September imposed a $400 million penalty on Instagram for mishandling children’s data. In October 2021, the same regulator fined Meta $235 million for violations by its WhatsApp messaging service. In total, Irish authorities have imposed penalties of more than $900 million on Meta in the past two years. Continue reading Ireland DPC Fines Meta $275 Million for Data Privacy Breach

Advocacy Groups Seek to Enact Online Rules to Protect Kids

A coalition of more than 20 advocacy groups with an interest in child safety is petitioning the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit social media platforms including TikTok as well as online games and other services from bombarding kids with ads and using other tactics that may hook children online. Regulators are being lobbied to prevent online services from offering minors “low-friction rewards” — unpredictably granting positive reinforcement for scrolling, tapping or logging on to prolonged use. The groups say the technique is the same used by slot machine makers to keep gamblers engaged. Continue reading Advocacy Groups Seek to Enact Online Rules to Protect Kids