Musk Takes to Twitter Spaces to Share Plans for the Platform

Elon Musk is seeking a payments system for Twitter as he pursues his plan to make it a “super app” along the lines of China’s WeChat. Musk outlined his vision in a live presentation on Twitter Spaces to more than 100,000 users and advertisers, including reps from Adidas, Kate Spade, Nissan and Walgreens. Musk has been brainstorming with confidants over ways to improve Twitter and make it profitable. Last week, Twitter filed registration paperwork with the Treasury Department for approval to add payments. Meanwhile, top privacy and security executives are leaving the company after Musk told employees “bankruptcy isn’t out of the question.” Continue reading Musk Takes to Twitter Spaces to Share Plans for the Platform

Incubated at Twitter by Jack Dorsey, Bluesky Launching Beta

Bluesky, a decentralized platform conceived by Jack Dorsey while he was CEO of Twitter, has generated more than 30,000 waitlist signups as it prepares for a private beta launch of Bluesky Social. Bluesky’s main innovation is the Authenticated Transport (AT) Protocol, described as a networking technology “to power the next generation of social applications.” AT Protocol is an open standard designed to allow different social apps the ability to interoperate, giving users more control by letting them independently adjust algorithm settings or move profiles without losing data. Continue reading Incubated at Twitter by Jack Dorsey, Bluesky Launching Beta

Tencent Revenue Drops 3 Percent in First Decline Since 2004

Tencent’s nearly two-decade growth trajectory came to a halt Wednesday with a 3 percent revenue drop over the same period in 2021. The contraction marked the Chinese video game and social media giant’s first quarterly revenue decline since going public in 2004. Tencent’s April-June revenue fell by about $20 billion, the result of China’s slowing economy and sagging digital advertising revenue, as well as tighter government video game regulations and diminished consumer user spending. Prior to Q4 2021, Tencent had consistently posted double-digit — and sometimes triple-digit — growth since its IPO. Continue reading Tencent Revenue Drops 3 Percent in First Decline Since 2004

U.S. Firms Chase China’s WeChat in Bid to Build Super Apps

U.S. tech execs are experiencing app envy, with companies from Uber to PayPal and billionaires Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey setting their sights on building one-size-fits-all “super apps” to rival Tencent’s WeChat in China and SoftBank’s LINE in Japan. Where typical apps are built to do one thing really well, so-called super apps are generalists, which in theory means people will use them more often. Spotify and Snap have also expressed interest in super solutions, which have been popular in Asia since 2020 and are sparking new interest in the West. Continue reading U.S. Firms Chase China’s WeChat in Bid to Build Super Apps

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

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

Big Tech Bristles as Antitrust Bill Moves to a Full Senate Vote

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to advance a bill designed to level the playing field between Big Tech and smaller players forced to rely on the giant firms to reach customers. Allegations that the behemoths abuse their power to subjugate competitors and exploit consumers permeate Capitol Hill. After being reminded by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) that antitrust laws haven’t been meaningfully updated “since the birth of the Internet,” the American Innovation and Choice Online Act was advanced on a bipartisan basis, setting it on a path for a full Senate vote. Continue reading Big Tech Bristles as Antitrust Bill Moves to a Full Senate Vote

Biden Introduces Broader Review of Foreign-Controlled Apps

President Biden revoked former President Trump’s executive order banning social-networking services TikTok and WeChat — developed by Chinese companies ByteDance and Tencent Holdings, respectively — but didn’t let Chinese companies off the hook. Instead, he replaced the previous order with another that establishes a broader review of the potential security risks found in numerous foreign-controlled apps. Biden officials said the new order would create “clear intelligible criteria” to evaluate those risks. Trump’s executive order was immediately challenged in court, and Biden’s move, said analysts, is intended to withstand such a test. Continue reading Biden Introduces Broader Review of Foreign-Controlled Apps

U.S. Will Remove Chinese Phone Maker Xiaomi From Blacklist

The U.S. Defense Department removed Xiaomi from a blacklist preventing U.S. investment in the Chinese tech company, an action taken during the Trump administration that alleged the company had ties with the Chinese military. Two months ago, in a Washington D.C. court, a judge criticized the rationale behind the blacklisting and ordered a temporary halt against its enforcement. Xiaomi shares rose 6.1 percent in Hong Kong following the news. TikTok and WeChat also found redress against Trump-era actions against them. Continue reading U.S. Will Remove Chinese Phone Maker Xiaomi From Blacklist

China Signals Tighter Big Tech Regulation with Alibaba Fine

The Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) fined e-commerce giant Alibaba $2.8 billion for antitrust violations, a rebuke to its founder, high-profile tycoon Jack Ma. Investigation into whether Alibaba prevented sellers from offering their goods on other e-commerce platforms began in December. The official Communist Party newspaper called monopolies “the great enemy of the market economy” and said regulation was “a kind of love and care.” In 2015, China fined Qualcomm $975 million, also for antitrust violations. Continue reading China Signals Tighter Big Tech Regulation with Alibaba Fine

New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk

University of Toronto’s cybersecurity group The Citizen Lab just released a report with the finding that TikTok’s underlying code does not pose a threat to U.S. national security. Former president Donald Trump and leaders in other countries accused ByteDance’s TikTok of spying for China but The Citizen Lab, which reports on censorship and surveillance by Chinese social media apps, found no evidence of “overtly malicious behavior.” However, they added that there could be undiscovered security issues. Continue reading New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk

Chinese Regulators Rein in Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Group

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has long been celebrated in China for his successful entrepreneurship that has made him that country’s richest individual. More recently, however, his troubles with the Chinese government led that country’s media to dub him an “evil capitalist” and “bloodsucking ghost.” Last week, China opened an antitrust probe into Alibaba and is investigating Ant Group, a fintech company Ma spun out of Alibaba. After nixing that company’s IPO, China is now telling Ma to fix its many perceived flaws. Continue reading Chinese Regulators Rein in Jack Ma’s Alibaba and Ant Group

TikTok Popularity Surge Continues as U.S. Ultimatum Looms

ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for more time to work out the preliminary deal to sell its U.S. operations to Oracle and Walmart. November 12 is the deadline for the deal to be completed. The company also stated it had been in discussions with the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS), but “feedback had stopped” in recent weeks despite the approaching deadline. App Annie reports that TikTok’s substantial growth is expected to continue throughout 2021. Continue reading TikTok Popularity Surge Continues as U.S. Ultimatum Looms

Alibaba Spinoff Ant Group Preps for a Record $34 Billion IPO

With the goal of disrupting the banking business in China and making it easier for small businesses to get loans, Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma created Ant Group. Now, the Alibaba spinoff is set to raise $34 billion by selling shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai in what is expected to be the largest initial public offering (IPO) on record. After the IPO, the company will be worth around $310 billion. At its size, Ant is a target for Chinese regulators at the same time that some government funds are Ant shareholders. Continue reading Alibaba Spinoff Ant Group Preps for a Record $34 Billion IPO

TikTok Takes Government to Court Over Potential Shutdown

TikTok’s lawyers filed suit with U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols to prevent the federal government from imposing a shutdown of operations on November 12, when companies will be banned from providing Internet hosting to TikTok. An attorney stated that, “competitors have already taken advantage of the government’s highly-publicized intention to shut down the app to entice TikTok creators and users to switch platforms.” Cloud platform provider Fastly saw its shares plummet after ByteDance, owner of TikTok, spent less than predicted in Q3. Continue reading TikTok Takes Government to Court Over Potential Shutdown