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Tech

TikTok Ropes in Long-time Disney's Head of Streaming Kevin Mayer as New CEO

Kevin Mayer, Disney's head of direct-to-consumer division, on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, USA. (Pic Source: Reuters)

Kevin Mayer, Disney’s head of direct-to-consumer division, on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, USA. (Pic Source: Reuters)

During his career at Disney, Mayer was instrumental in facilitating a number of strategic acquisitions, including the acquisition of 21st Century Fox.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 19, 2020, 11:48 AM IST

Long-time Disney’s head of streaming Kevin Mayer is going to be the CEO of short-video making platform TikTok and chief operating officer of ByteDance which is the owner of TikTok. Alex Zhu, the current President of TikTok, will transition to ByteDance VP of Product and Strategy, where he will focus on his primary passion overseeing strategy and product design, ByteDance said in a statement late Monday.

Mayer led Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International segment since its founding in 2018 and oversaw the successful launches of ESPN+ and Disney+ and the integration of Hulu. During his career at Disney, Mayer was instrumental in facilitating a number of strategic acquisitions, including the acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Mayer will now report directly to ByteDance Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Yiming Zhang, and will be charged with driving the global development of ByteDance, as well as overseeing corporate functions including corporate development, sales, marketing, public affairs, security, moderation, and legal.

In his role as COO, he will lead music, gaming, Helo, emerging businesses, and will serve as CEO of TikTok, leading the rapidly growing platform as it continues to build its global community of creators, users, and brands. TikTok’s popularity has surged in Covid-19 times worldwide. “As one of the world’s most accomplished entertainment executives, Mayer is incredibly well placed to take ByteDance’s portfolio of products to the next level. I look forward to working very closely with Mayer on our global development and the next chapter of the ByteDance story,” said Zhang. Mayer said he is thrilled to have the opportunity to join the amazing team at ByteDance.

“I’ve been impressed watching the company build something incredibly rare in TikTok – a creative, positive online global community – and I’m excited to help lead the next phase of ByteDance’s journey as the company continues to expand its breadth of products across every region of the world,” he noted. Founded in 2012, ByteDance has more than a dozen products, including TikTok, Helo, and Resso, as well as platforms specific to the China market, including Toutiao, Douyin, and Xigua.

Mayer’s role at Disney will be taken over by Rebecca Campbell, who has been named chairman of Disney’s direct-to-consumer efforts. Disney also announced that Josh D’Amaro would become chairman of Disney’s parks, experiences, and products.



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Tech

Mark Zuckerberg is Worried About China’s Influence on The Internet; Many Would Agree With Him

Mark Zuckerberg is Worried About China’s Influence on The Internet; Many Would Agree With Him

Zuckerberg said that the 2018 overhaul of the privacy policy in the EU also meant Facebook had to reform its approach to data privacy around the world.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 19, 2020, 9:24 AM IST

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he is worried about the influence China is having in terms of regulating the internet and fears other countries might follow a similar example. In fact, he has urged western countries to counter China’s model with a democratic approach. He says the Chinese approach is “really dangerous”. China’s censorship of content on the internet and the fact that many global tech platforms are banned in the country, including Facebook, is often referred to as ‘The Great Firewall’.

“What I worry about is, right now I think there are emerging two very different frameworks underpinned by very different sets of values,” Zuckerberg said in a livestreamed discussion with EU official Thierry Breton. This is not the first time Zuckerberg has warned about the Chinese influence and the Chinese way of regulating the internet. He said it is the responsibility of the western countries to have a clear data privacy framework in place.

Zuckerberg in fact praised the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which implemented changes for how tech companies and social media platforms including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter collect and handle user data in the EU region. He also said that the 2018 overhaul of the privacy policy in the EU also meant Facebook had to reform its approach to data privacy around the world.

In October last year, Zuckerberg had not held back in criticizing TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance. While speaking at the Georgetown University on free speech, he had criticized TikTok for what he called “mentions of these protests are censored, even in the U.S.” referring to the censorship around the anti-China or pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. “Just to be blunt about it, I think there is a model coming out of countries like China that tend to have very different values than Western countries that are more democratic,” Zuckerberg said.

Facebook only recently got a 20-member oversight board which has the power to correct or overrule the social media platform’s content moderation policies, including instances of hate speech and misinformation, if it feels the need to do so. The board will start hearing cases later this summer.




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Tech

Why is Everyone in The Silicon Valley so Obsessed With TikTok?

It’s a valid question, isn’t it? Why is everyone so obsessed with TikTok? We aren’t talking about the TikTok ‘stars’, but the rest of the Silicon Valley tech fraternity which has been noticing TikTok when they can easily ignore it and carry on. So, what’s up? Why is Reddit CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman calling “fundamentally parasitic” while speaking at the Social 2030 venture capital conference? And why is Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook worried about the fact that her kids, like millions around the world, are incredibly active on TikTok?

To better understand why TikTok is worrying a lot of tech companies, we first need to ask—What is TikTok? This started out in life as an entertainment app a few years ago. The idea was to allow users to share short duration videos, made on mobile and for mobile viewing, on anything and everything that may be on their mind. Here and now, TikTok and its format has pretty much changed the definition of social media. No longer is that space defined by Facebook Lives, Facebook posts, and Twitter rants.

TikTok’s incredible popularity can perhaps be best judged by numbers—it has over 800 million monthly active users as of January 2020. Those are numbers from Hootsuite’s Digital 2020 report released last month. This is up from 300 million in January 2019, which is nothing short of an incredible spike. TikTok was the most downloaded non-gaming app in 2019. No surprise. Also, 2020 has started off from where ByteDance left off in 2019—TikTok was downloaded 104 million times on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store in January, according to data from Sensor Tower. That’s including the Chinese version of the app called Douyin. This was more than WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatever else may come to your mind. There have been 1.82 billion TikTok downloads till date.

ALSO READ | TikTok Transparency Report: India Logged Maximum Interventions To Take Down Content

No wonder then that Sandberg is worried her kids and millions of others are now spending more time on TikTok than on the Facebook app or Instagram, both owned by Facebook. “In the world of tech, we compete for every minute of your attention. Every day you pick up your phone, I mean my kids pick up the phone and they’re on TikTok,” she said while speaking with NBC reporter Dylan Byers. “Sure […] they’re huge, they’re growing really quickly, they’ve gotten to bigger numbers faster than we ever did,” she added. There you have it, folks—TikTok is outpacing the growth Facebook clocked when it was in vogue.

About 60 percent of TikTok users are between the ages of 16-24, according to data from social media advertising site Wallaroo Media. TikTok surely is catching them young.

Is it perhaps the fact that the enormously successful TikTok hasn’t come from a 25-year old Silicon Valley inhabitant, which is bothering the tech giants? Instead, it is from the now 36-year old Zhang Yiming, born in Longyan in China and still lives in the country.

ALSO READ | Bad News! TikTok is Getting a Family Mode: Parents Can Set Time Limits And Disable DMs

As for catching them young, Yiming also seems to have the finger on the pulse of what the social media savvy audience seems to want. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said in January that he believes TikTok will surpass Instagram in the not too distant future. The reason? No social posturing (in other words, no faking it) but real talent is on show. “People who have spent a couple hours learning a new dance or think about a funny new creative way to tell a story, and they’re really making media to entertain other people,” he said. Spiegel was speaking at the DLD conference in Germany.

Social media, as it was before this TikTok led disruption came around, seemed to be all about constructing a post. Constructing in the sense that it had to look good, the photo or video had to be framed perfectly, lots of editing—and all that resulted in likes, comments and perhaps created a “cool” persona for yourself in the virtual world. Often, this was completely detached from reality.

In 2019, Facebook-owned Instagram’s growth reduced to single digits for the first time—it grew at 6.7% in 2019 in the US, according to numbers by market research firm eMarketer. Over the years, Snap (formerly known as Snapchat) has been at loggerheads with Facebook for what it believed was blatant copying of its features for Instagram, Facebook and even WhatsApp apps. “We don’t see copying as a limitation on the growth of our business,” he did say. Earlier this month, we had reported how TikTok is testing a user profile design that is very similar to Facebook-owned Instagram. The boot is on the other foot.

ALSO READ | Post Cambridge Analytica, Facebook Sues Data Analytics Firm for Harvesting User Data

Let us now address the proverbial elephant in the room. How private is your data on TikTok? How safe is your data? Are you being surveilled on?

A pretty common allegation against TikTok is that the data we as users give to TikTok while using the app, is not private. Because well, it is a Chinese company. Let me allow Facebook’s Sandberg to illustrate her concerns better. “They’re a Chinese company, if people are concerned about data, I think there’s a lot to be concerned about there,” she said while speaking with NBC. This is the same Facebook which has been leaking the user data of millions over the past few years, in breach after breach after breach. The same Facebook that has been pulled up by lawmakers around the world for being very inconsiderate with the privacy requirements of user data. The same Facebook that is using all possible methods to curate adverts for you across its apps. Quite ironic, considering the Cambridge Analytica scandal is still fresh in our minds and the company was at the receiving end of a $5 billion fine by the Federal Trade Commission over privacy concerns just last year—incidentally, the largest fine the agency has issued, yet.

Then there is the Reddit CEO and co-founder Steve Huffman. “Maybe I’m going to regret this, but I can’t even get to that level of thinking with [TikTok], because I look at that app as so fundamentally parasitic, that it’s always listening, the fingerprinting technology they use is truly terrifying, and I could not bring myself to install an app like that on my phone,” he reportedly said at the Social 2030 venture capital conference.

There may very well be a point of debate there. Researcher Matthias Eberl on Rufposten had detailed how ByteDance uses what are known as fingerprinting techniques to track who is sharing a video and who is watching it—this is particularly important for shortened URLs that get shared on other social media platforms and shared in groups on instant messaging apps. ByteDance says this is for identifying malicious user behavior.

Whether that clarification is correct or not, we will have to accept it in the same spirit as when Facebook said it had no idea Cambridge Analytica was collecting user data by the bucketloads. Just because ByteDance is a Chinese company doesn’t make it any less innocent or more guilty than a rival based in the US or Europe.

ALSO READ | Latest Facebook App For Android Has The Shocking Habit of Sending Notifications Even When Signed Out

We may argue about it all we want, but the reality is as clear as it can be. And it is serious stuff for people. Just the other day, Jason Clark, who has more than 403,000 followers as @jasontodolist on TikTok nearly drowned after getting trapped under ice while filming a stunt for his TikTok video. American rapper Doja Cat, or Amalaratna Zandile Dlamini, in her new single Say So is recreating a dance that was made popular in a video by TikTok user Haley Sharpe. In fact, Sharpe is part of the video for the single—and she has more than 1.2 million followers on TikTok. In India, actor and fashion icon Deepika Padukone clocked more than 1.2 million followers on the platform in less than 12 hours. The world is on TikTok.

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Tech

WhatsApp Clocks 5 Billion Downloads on Android; TikTok is The Second Most Downloaded App

Facebook owns four out of the top five most downloaded apps worldwide, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.

Image for Representation (Image altered by News18)
Image for Representation
(Image altered by News18)

Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp for Android has now notched up a staggering five billion downloads, making it only the second non-Google app to achieve this milestone. According to Statista, WhatsApp is most popular global mobile messenger app worldwide with approximately 1.6 billion monthly active users, outranking Facebook Messenger at 1.3 billion and WeChat at 1.1 billion users in 2019. Following Facebook and YouTube, it is the third most popular social network worldwide. As with most Android applications that reach large amounts of installs, this number does not just include downloads from the Play Store, but also pre-installed copies like Samsung and Huawei has bundled the app with some smartphones in the past, AndroidPolice reported.

As for the Google Play store, South Korea was the fastest-growing WhatsApp market, with downloads of the mobile messaging app increasing almost 56 percent in 2019. Additionally, Google for the first time in five years, unseated Facebook as the top publisher of mobile apps. In the last quarter of 2019, Google amassed close to 850 million downloads compared to Facebook‘s nearly 800 million, analytics firm Sensor Tower revealed recently. When it comes to overall downloads for the year, however, Google still trails behind Facebook.

While Google raked in nearly 2.3 billion downloads, Facebook gained almost 3 billion downloads over the past 12 months. Facebook owns four out of the top five most downloaded apps worldwide, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, that does not come as a surprise. ByteDance-owned video sharing app TikTok was the world’s second-most downloaded app in 2019.