Twitter Investors Back Musk Offer as Whistleblower Testifies

Twitter shareholders this week approved the $44 billion takeover bid by Elon Musk, voting the same day as whistleblower Peiter Zatko testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, telling lawmakers that the social media company’s leadership misled regulators about security failures. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was skeptical as to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal keeping his job if Zatko’s allegations prove to be true, saying the executive “rejected this committee’s invitation by claiming that it would jeopardize Twitter’s ongoing litigation” with Musk. Twitter has categorically denied Zatko’s claims, which include foreign agents infiltrating Twitter’s workforce. Continue reading Twitter Investors Back Musk Offer as Whistleblower Testifies

Researcher Says TikTok Can Track User Data via Keystrokes

Popular short-form video platform TikTok is garnering more unwanted attention, this time for tracking users’ keystrokes via a the ByteDance-owned video app’s browser. The feature was discovered by privacy researcher Felix Krause, a former Google engineer, who reported the Chinese company embeds the tracking capability within the in-app browser that opens when someone clicks an external link. Krause noted his research is limited to the Apple iOS platform. Krause did not speculate as to how TikTok is using the capability, but suggests he finds it troubling because it indicates TikTok is able to track users’ online activity if it so chooses. Continue reading Researcher Says TikTok Can Track User Data via Keystrokes

TikTok Promises Government That User Data Will Remain Safe

In the wake of an FCC commissioner’s call to have TikTok banned from the Apple and Android stores, company CEO Shou Zi Chew issued a letter assuring senators that the China-based company is doing all it can to “remove any doubt about the security of U.S. user data.” Responding to questions from nine Republicans — including ranking Senate Commerce Committee member Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) — Chew reiterated the claim that TikTok maintains American user data on servers controlled by the U.S. company Oracle, with plans for third-party audits. The dust-up follows an incendiary report by BuzzFeed News. Continue reading TikTok Promises Government That User Data Will Remain Safe

Android 13 and iOS 16 Bring Smartphone Upgrades This Fall

New Android and iPhone operating system updates for smartphones will be made available free this fall. Both Google and Apple have announced improvements to text messaging apps. Notably, Apple’s iMessage will allow iPhone users to edit or recall text messages after they’ve been sent, a much-requested feature over the years. The iPhone’s iOS 16 will also debut a redesigned lock screen. Meanwhile, Google’s Android 13 will have among its upgrades a new and improved wallet app that can store important documents like credit cards and medical records. Continue reading Android 13 and iOS 16 Bring Smartphone Upgrades This Fall

Direct-to-Consumer Marketers Seek Social Media Alternatives

Direct-to-consumer startups that previously relied mainly on Facebook and Instagram to reach customers continue to adapt strategies more than a year after Apple’s privacy policy revisions forced massive change on the digital advertising sector. Brands that were marketing before Apple’s privacy changes took effect last year had an opportunity to build customer bases using the uniquely specific targeting opportunities once offered by social media. Newer entities, however, are struggling to get a toehold as they search for comparable tools, looking well beyond the traditional social platforms. Continue reading Direct-to-Consumer Marketers Seek Social Media Alternatives

Sheryl Sandberg Is Stepping Down as COO of Meta Platforms

Sheryl Sandberg announced that she will be resigning from her 14-year tenure as the chief operating officer of Meta Platforms, the company formerly known as Facebook. She will be replaced by Meta’s chief growth officer Javier Olivan and maintain a seat on the company’s board of directors. Sandberg will work with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to transition out of her role as COO and officially step down this fall. Recognized by Zuckerberg and others as the primary architect of Facebook’s advertising business, Baird analyst Colin Sebastian said Sandberg developed “one of the strongest business models in the digital economy.” Continue reading Sheryl Sandberg Is Stepping Down as COO of Meta Platforms

TikTok ‘Pulse’ Pairs Advertising with Top-Performing Videos

Social video platform TikTok has unveiled a new advertising solution that allows brands to place their messages next to the top content in TikTok’s For You feed. The contextual ad solution, TikTok Pulse, is the first to allow TikTok creators a chance to share ad revenue. The program initially makes publishers, public figures and creators with 100,000 or more followers whose videos are in the top 4 percent eligible for a 50/50 ad revenue split. Pulse launches in the U.S. in June, with plans to roll out to additional markets in the fall. Continue reading TikTok ‘Pulse’ Pairs Advertising with Top-Performing Videos

Proposed Antitrust Laws a Privacy Disaster Warns Tim Cook

Antitrust legislation pending in the U.S. and European Union is at odds with consumer privacy initiatives in those territories, Apple CEO Tim Cook told attendees of the IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2022 in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. Speaking out against proposed “gatekeeper” rules, Cook warned that “when companies decide to leave the App Store because they want to exploit user data, it could put significant pressure on people to engage with alternate app stores — app stores where their privacy and security may not be protected.” Continue reading Proposed Antitrust Laws a Privacy Disaster Warns Tim Cook

TikTok Updates Safety for Minors, Expands Security Features

On the heels of its first Congressional hearing for product safety, TikTok has announced policy changes aimed at making the short-form video social platform safer and more secure, particularly for minors, LGBTQ and minority users. In October, TikTok vice president and head of public policy Michael Beckerman testified along with executives from Snapchat and YouTube, addressing questions from U.S. senators as to the social media site’s impact on teen eating disorders and fallout from dangerous hoaxes. The policy updates address those concerns and institute new cybersecurity measures intended to protect user data from unauthorized access. Continue reading TikTok Updates Safety for Minors, Expands Security Features

Biden Administration Intends to Contain TikTok Security Risk

The Commerce Department is taking steps to shore-up federal rules against potential security risks from foreign-owned social platforms like ByteDance’s TikTok, expanding federal oversight to include apps that might be used by “foreign adversaries to steal or otherwise obtain data,” a recent filing in the Federal Register stipulates. The proposed rule allows the commerce secretary to designate certain foreign apps as security risks and force software connected to the Internet to submit to third-party auditing. Such audits could include monitoring logs that show user data as well as the parsing of source code. Continue reading Biden Administration Intends to Contain TikTok Security Risk

Meta AI Research Supercomputer Aims to Be World’s Fastest

The immersive experiences Meta Platforms has planned for the metaverse will require processing power beyond what’s possible today, tipping into the quintillions of operations-per-second. But the company has a fix for that. Meta announced Monday that it has been working on a new artificial intelligence supercomputer called the AI Research SuperCluster, that will be the fastest in the world when fully built this summer. Drawing on resources from partners like Nvidia, Penguin Computing and Pure Storage, the effort took two years and involved several hundred people who collaborated remotely through the COVID-19 pandemic for much of the project. Continue reading Meta AI Research Supercomputer Aims to Be World’s Fastest

CES: Stakeholders Debate the Complex Issues of Privacy 3.0

During CES this week, CTA senior vice president of political and industry affairs Tiffany Moore led a discussion on the contentious issues surrounding privacy in an evolving digital landscape. With her, former FTC acting chair Maureen Ohlhausen was joined by Asad Ramzanali, legislative director to Representative Anna Eshoo (D-California), and Dr. Carlos Nunez, ResMed chief medical officer. Ohlhausen noted that the FTC is the primary agency tasked with privacy issues, based on a 1938 law passed by Congress prohibiting “unfair and deceptive acts or practices.” Continue reading CES: Stakeholders Debate the Complex Issues of Privacy 3.0

Startups Want Consumers to Be Paid for Their Personal Data

Personal data is fueling a $455.3 billion online advertising market, and a crop of new startups wants consumers whose information creates the value to get a piece of that action. Among the startups are Brave Software, Tapestri, Reklaim and Streamlytics. Now real estate billionaire Frank McCourt has committed $250 million to fund Project Liberty, which he hopes will restyle the web as a platform owned by the public. Of that amount, McCourt — former owner of the L.A. Dodgers — earmarked $25 million to create a decentralized social networking protocol that aims to reinvent the model for consumer data governance online. Continue reading Startups Want Consumers to Be Paid for Their Personal Data

EU’s Data Governance Act Targets Growth of Digital Economy

The European Parliament and EU Member States have reached an agreement on the Data Governance Act, clearing the way for final approval on legislation. The Data Governance Act is a framework designed to encourage sharing under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), consumer protection laws and competition rules. The goal is to develop common European data spaces in areas such as manufacturing, cultural heritage and health. The Data Governance Act is the first of two steps. The EU’s Data Act — which promotes data sharing among EU member states, businesses and government — will soon be formally proposed. Continue reading EU’s Data Governance Act Targets Growth of Digital Economy

Australia Is Opening Door to Social Media Defamation Liability

The Parliament of Australia is preparing to crackdown on social media trolls by preparing legislation that will hold companies legally responsible for defamatory material posted to their sites. A draft of the proposed law would require companies to have formal complaint processes in place to report online abuse and require they provide complainants with the identities of alleged bullies once certain criteria are met. The proposed legislation is scheduled to be released this week, and expected to come before the Parliament next year. It is part of the country’s broader effort to overhaul defamation laws. Continue reading Australia Is Opening Door to Social Media Defamation Liability