Amputee, model and body positivity advocate Jess Quinn has lashed out at ever-growing social media network TikTok for censoring disabled people because it deemed them “susceptible” to bullying.
The 27-year-old New Zealander, who lost her leg to cancer when she was nine years old, shared her message on Instagram on Thursday.
Accompanying a video of her dancing with her prosthesis and wearing a hoodie with the words “all bodies welcome here” was a stark message for the video-based social media network.
“I hear you have shadow banned videos by ‘disabled, fat or LGBTQ ‘ users because they’re ‘vulnerable to bullying if their videos reach a wide audience’,” Quinn wrote.
Shadow banning is the practice by social media platforms of blocking users so it is not obvious to the user that they or their comments have been blocked.
“Well, on behalf of all of those people, the only bullying is your exclusion of people who you believe are ‘vulnerable’,” Quinn wrote.
“I thought I’d add a little video to your app of my ‘vulnerable’ self, wearing a sweatshirt that says ALL BODIES WELCOME HERE, while removing one of my body parts.”
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Her frustrations are due to an early edition of the app’s terms and conditions, which restricted content from people “susceptible to bullying or harassment based on their physical or mental condition”.
Though Quinn says this never affected her personally, she was distressed it could have.
In the video below, an explainer of what TikTok actually is
In response, TikTok has conceded it was “blunt and temporary”.
“This was never designed to be a long-term solution, but rather a way to help manage a troubling trend,” a spokeswoman told 7NEWS.com.au.
“While the intention was good, it became clear that the approach was wrong.
“We want TikTok to be a space where users can safely and freely express themselves, and we have long since changed the policy in favour of more nuanced anti-bullying policies and in-app protections.”
A blog post on the social network’s website says the user is in control of who is able to respond to their content, with blocking and reporting features available.
Quinn said the overarching goal for people with disabilities was just to be treated like anyone else.
“I thank you for your attempt at being considerate to us ‘vulnerable’ people but quite frankly we just want to be treated like everyone else,” she wrote.
TikTok Sale: Algorithm Question Said to Complicate Deal
Sale talks for TikTok’s US operations have been complicated by the key question of whether the app’s core algorithms can be included as part of a deal, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal that cited unidentified people familiar with the matter.
Those algorithms decide what videos users see without first requiring them to follow other users or specify their preferences. The Journal report stated the algorithms were considered part of the deal negotiations up until Friday.
That’s when the Chinese government introduced export restrictions on artificial intelligence technology that appear to cover content-recommendation algorithms such as the one powering TikTok. The move followed President Donald Trump’s effort to force a sale of TikTok’s US operations by September 20.
Those export restrictions mean that TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, would have to obtain a license to export any restricted technologies to a foreign company. The question is whether its algorithms would need Chinese government approval for transfer, and if so, whether Beijing would sign off.
The Journal report said both the prospective buyers and the seller, ByteDance, are trying to figure that out. Prospective buyers for US TikTok assets include a Microsoft-Walmart team-up and, reportedly, Oracle.
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TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer Quits After Three Months, Just as Firm Challenges US Ban
TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer has left the Chinese-owned video app firm just three months since joining, and only days since the company sued the administration of US President Donald Trump over an executive order effectively banning it in the United States.
He will be replaced by US General Manager Vanessa Pappas on an interim basis, TikTok said in a statement.
The resignation comes at a tricky time for super-fast growing TikTok as it tries to persuade both the United States and India that it is not a security threat, while at the same time holding discussions with prospective buyers following a second US order demanding the sale of its US operations.
In another development, former TikTok India manager Raj Mishra has been appointed by Triller as Country Manager and Head of Operations for the country. Mishra was the very first employee to be hired at TikTok India. In his new role at Triller, he will be leading and furthering the development of video-sharing app’s products, operations, and overall business goals.
“In recent weeks, as the political environment has sharply changed, I have done significant reflection on what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for,” Mayer said in an letter to employees.
“Against this backdrop, and as we expect to reach a resolution very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to leave the company.”
ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming said in a separate letter reviewed by Reuters that the company was “moving quickly to find resolutions to the issues that we face globally, particularly in the US and India”.
He said Mayer had joined just as the company was “entering arguably our most challenging moment.”
“It is never easy to come into a leadership position in a company moving as quickly as we are, and the circumstances following his arrival made it all the more complex,” Zhang said.
ByteDance employees told Reuters they were not surprised by Mayer’s decision given TikTok’s unpredictable future, and also because the ex-Disney executive has not had a significant role in some important decisions as he was still new to the team.
Zhang has been the key person in TikTok sale talks, said two people with knowledge of the matter. But Mayer represented TikTok to discuss with senior executives of interested buyers just days ago, a third person said.
TikTok’s decision to launch a $200 million (roughly Rs. 1,478 crores) “creator fund” in July was spearheaded by TikTok’s former head Alex Zhu, though Mayer was also directly involved, said two of the people. The project was initiated internally much earlier than Mayer’s arrival, one of the people said.
“The learning curve was steep for him, from daily operations to geopolitical implications,” said one of the people.
ByteDance did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
“Whether TikTok reaches an agreement to sell its US business or decides to duke it out in the courts, the role for Mayer will not be anything like that he had envisioned when he joined,” said Mark Natkin, managing director of Marbridge Consulting in Beijing.
Mayer’s departure is not a great boost for company morale right now, Natkin said.
US India Challenges
Amid growing distrust between Washington and Beijing, Trump complained that TikTok was a national security threat and could share information about users with China’s government.
Trump issued an executive order banning US transactions with TikTok on August 6, effective in mid-September. He issued a separate order about a week later giving ByteDance 90 days to divest of TikTok’s US operations and data.
ByteDance has been in talks to sell TikTok’s North American, Australian and New Zealand operations which could be worth $25 billion (roughly Rs. 184,816 crores) to $30 billion (roughly Rs. 221,801 crores) to companies including Microsoft and Oracle, people with knowledge of the matter have said.
The company has also been targeted in India, where TikTok was one of 59 Chinese apps banned by the Indian government in June following a border clash between India and China.
That month, Mayer wrote to India’s government saying China’s government has never requested user data, nor would TikTok turn it over if asked.
TechCrunch reported earlier this month that ByteDance was in talks with India’s Reliance for investment in TikTok.
TikTok has become a global sensation since ByteDance launched the app in 2017, with operations in countries such as France, South Korea, Indonesia, Russia and Brazil. In April, the app hit 2 billion downloads globally.
© Thomson Reuters 2020
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Social Networking Sites Market 2020 (COVID-19 Worldwide Spread Analysis) by Key Players …
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1. North America Country (United States, Canada)
2. South America
3. Asia Country (China, Japan, India, Korea)
4. Europe Country (Germany, UK, France, Italy)
5. Other Country (Middle East, Africa, GCC)
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TOC Snapshot of Global Social Networking Sites Market
1. Social Networking Sites Product Definition
2. Worldwide Social Networking Sites Market Manufacturer Share and Market Overview
3. Manufacturer Social Networking Sites Business Introduction
4. Social Networking Sites Market Segmentation (Region Level)
5. World Social Networking Sites Market Segmentation (Product Type Level)
6. Social Networking Sites Market Segmentation (Industry Level)
7. Segmentation (Channel Level) of Social Networking Sites Market
8. Social Networking Sites Market Forecast 2020-2027
9. Product Type Social Networking Sites Segmentation
10. Segmentation of Social Networking Sites Industry
11. Cost of Social Networking Sites Production Analysis
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