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TikTok Admits Error After Penalising Teen Who Posted Political Videos

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TikTok on Wednesday acknowledged it had erred in penalising a 17-year-old who had posted witty but incisive political videos, promising it would restore her ability to access her account on her personal device. The company’s apology – coupled with a new pledge to reevaluate its policies – still failed to satisfy the teen, Feroza Aziz, who again raised concerns that she’d been the victim of censorship by the fast-growing, Chinese-owned social-media app.

TikTok is trying to cover up this whole mess,” she told The Washington Post. “I won’t let them get away with this.”

The saga started earlier this week, when Aziz tweeted that her profile had been temporarily suspended. She attributed the penalty to the fact she had recently shared a satirical video that urged viewers to research the harrowing conditions facing Muslims in China’s detention camps. Her comment quickly garnered widespread attention because TikTok is owned by a China-based tech conglomerate, ByteDance, though the company has sought to stress recently its US operations are independent from Beijing’s strict censorship rules.

TikTok, however, said it had penalised her not for her comments about China but rather a video she’d shared earlier – a short clip, posted on to a different account, that included a photo of Osama bin Laden. Aziz’s video violated the company’s policies against terrorist content, TikTok said, so the company took action against her device, making any of her other accounts unavailable on that device. TikTok said her videos about China did not violate its rules, had not been removed and had been viewed more than a million times.

But the video in question – a copy of which she shared with The Washington Post – actually was a comedic video about dating that the company had misinterpreted as terrorism, Aziz said.

By Wednesday evening, TikTok had reversed course: The company said it restored her ability to access her account on her personal device. TikTok also acknowledged that her video about China had been removed for 50 minutes on Wednesday morning, which it attributed to a “human moderation error.”

“We acknowledge that at times, this process will not be perfect. Humans will sometimes make mistakes, such as the one made today in the case of @getmefamouspartthree’s video,” wrote Eric Han, the head of safety at TikTok U.S., referring to Aziz’s account.

“When those mistakes happen, however, our commitment is to quickly address and fix them, undertake trainings or make changes to reduce the risk of the same mistakes being repeated, and fully own the responsibility for our errors,” Han continued.

In doing so, TikTok for the first time offered detail about the actions it has taken to police its platform: In November, the company said, it banned 2,406 devices associated with accounts that violated rules about terrorism, child exploitation or spam. It was part of that sweep that Aziz’s own device had been banned, locking her out of her account there.

Aziz, however, said late Wednesday she isn’t convinced.

“Do I believe they took it away because of a unrelated satirical video that was deleted on a previous deleted account of mine? Right after I finished posting a 3 part video about the Uyghurs? No,” she tweeted Wednesday.

TikTok’s policies have drawn critical attention in Washington, where investigations have begun into whether the platform presents a national security risk.

© The Washington Post 2019

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TIKTOK

ByteDance lays off employees in India, months after TikTok’s ban in the country

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ByteDance lays off employees in India, months after <b>TikTok's</b> ban in the country thumbnail
  • The company said that it was scaling down its employee size in India, as there has been no intimation from the government regarding a possible solution to the ban.
  • TikTok was banned in late June by the Indian government in the middle of rising tensions at the India-China border.
  • Even with all the ups and downs in its businesses across the globe, Bytedance has reportedly raked in $37 billion in revenue in 2020, including $7 billion in profit.

Chinese giant ByteDance has fired hundreds of employees in India, as the ban on Chinese apps including the company’s popular app TikTok remains banned in the country.

In an email to its employees on Wednesday morning, the company said that it was scaling down its employee size in India, as there has been no intimation from the government regarding a possible solution to the ban.

“We initially hoped that this situation would be short-lived, and that we would be able to resolve this quickly. Seven months later, we find that has not been the case. Many of you have patiently waited to hear how this would play out, which has been very stressful. Thank you for your continued belief and trust in us,” wrote TikTok CEO Vanessa Pappas and VP of Global Business Blake Chandlee in an email to India employees today, as reported by
TechCrunch.

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TikTok was banned in late June by the Indian government, as were 58 other Chinese apps in the middle of rising tensions at the India-China border. Soon after, over hundred other Chinese apps were banned in the country over privacy and data concerns.

“We have worked steadfastly to comply with the Government of India order issued on June 29, 2020. We continually strive to make our apps comply with local laws and regulations and do our best to address any concerns they have. It is therefore disappointing that in the ensuing seven months, despite our efforts we have not been given a clear direction on how and when our apps could be reinstated. It is deeply regretful that after supporting our 2000+ employees in India for more than half a year, we have no choice but to scale back the size of our workforce. We look forward to receiving the opportunity to relaunch TikTok and support the hundreds of millions of users, artists, story-tellers, educators and performers in India,” said a TikTok spokesperson.

Not just in India, TikTok saw complications in its business in India as former US President Donald Trump threatened to ban the app unless the company sold off its business to an American company – which it was eventually to Walmart and Oracle.

However, even with all the ups and downs in its businesses across the globe, Bytedance has
reportedly raked in $37 billion in revenue in 2020, including $7 billion in profit.




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YouTube says its TikTok competitor is getting 3.5 billion views a day in India test run

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YouTube says its <b>TikTok</b> competitor is getting 3.5 billion views a day in India test run thumbnail

Susan Wojcicki, chief executive officer of YouTube.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

YouTube’s short-form video feature Shorts, which aims to compete with TikTok, is achieving 3.5 billion views per day during its early test run in India, the company said Tuesday.

YouTube does not reveal detailed statistics for the service overall, but has said that 2 billion logged-in users visit every month, and that people watch a billion hours of video on the service every day.

The latest metric comes as Google-owned YouTube said it is looking to expand Shorts to more markets in 2021, according to a blog post YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki published Tuesday morning.

The company unveiled an early beta of Shorts in India in September. Shorts will be part of the YouTube app and looks a lot like TikTok, with an option to add music, change the speed of the video and more. But video length is capped at just 15 seconds. TikTok videos can be up to a minute long. 

Wojcicki also said the following in her letter:

  • Regulation will be a significant focus in 2021. She noted that there’s been a lot of talk about reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects companies from liability for the content that their users post, but also noted that Democrats and Republicans in Congress differ on what should be done.
  • The fastest-growing “screen” for YouTube viewership is the TV.
  • E-commerce is a growing focus for YouTube as well, and the company is beta-testing a program with creators in the beauty and electronics spaces to make it easier for consumers to buy the products they see in videos.
  • Over the last three years, the company has paid more than $30 billion to creators, artists, and media companies.
  • This year, the company will start asking creators in the U.S. on a voluntary basis to provide it with their gender, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity. The goal is to ensure fair treatment for creators of different backgrounds when it comes to search results and monetization opportunities.

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TikTok ‘saves woman’s life’ after strange message found outside home

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A woman claims her TikTok followers “saved her life” after she found a message written in snow outside her home.

Jade Jules, 27, from Newfoundland in Canada, took to the social media app on January 12 to ask viewers what the symbols meant after noticing the writing while taking out her garbage.

“This on the top of my garbage bucket,” she says in the video.

Jade Jules, 27, is pictured with a garbage bin with '1F' written on it in snow outside her house in Canada.

Jade Jules, 27, has moved out of her home after finding this message scrawled in snow on her bin (left). Source: TikTok/ bby.jade__

“What the f*** does that mean?”

The message written in snow reads: “1F”.

People on TikTok respond with disturbing theory

While Ms Jules couldn’t figure it out a number of her TikTok followers floated a theory.

“You’re being watched,” one woman wrote.

Viewers believed the “1F” might be a way of indicating “one female” lived in Ms Jules’s abode and several demanded she call the police.

“They are telling people who are supposed to rob you or whatever that you live alone,” another woman wrote.

Others reacted in horror.

“I’m a man and this scared me,” one man wrote.

‘I’m thankful’: Woman moves in with mum

While it’s not exactly clear if she has been targeted by criminals, Ms Jules said in a separate TikTok video police wiped the message off her bin and told her to “stay safe”.

She told the Metro she’s since moved in with her mum.

“I thought people on TikTok would know and help me, which they did. I’m very thankful for everyone who helped me,” she told the paper.

“My followers definitely saved my life… I had zero clue on what it meant.”

Ms Jules has now installed surveillance equipment at her how and is planning to move back into it with her mum.

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