UK Threatens To Fine TikTok £27m Over Child Privacy Lapse

This photo, taken on July 2, 2021, shows the TikTok logo displayed on a mobile phone screen. Taiwo Adeshina/Channels Television.
This photo, taken on July 2, 2021, shows the TikTok logo displayed on a mobile phone screen. Taiwo Adeshina/Channels Television.

 

Britain on Monday warned it could fine TikTok £27 million ($29 million) over a potential failure to protect children’s privacy on the Chinese-owned video app.

The Information Commissioner’s Office said the social media company “may have processed the data of children under the age of 13 without appropriate parental consent”.

The ICO also found that the short-form video platform may have “failed to provide proper information to its users in a concise, transparent and easily understood way”.

The watchdog has served the group with a notice of intent — which is a legal document that precedes a possible fine — over the possible breach of UK data protection law.

READ ALSO: US Jury Orders Meta To Pay $174.5mn For Violating Patents

“We all want children to be able to learn and experience the digital world, but with proper data privacy protections,” said Information Commissioner John Edwards.

“Companies providing digital services have a legal duty to put those protections in place, but our provisional view is that TikTok fell short of meeting that requirement.”

In response, TikTok said it disagreed with the ICO’s provisional views and stressed that no final conclusions had been reached.

“While we respect the ICO’s role in safeguarding privacy in the UK, we disagree with the preliminary views expressed and intend to formally respond to the ICO in due course,” TikTok said in a statement.

AFP

TikTok Videos: Police Suspend Two Supernumerary Officers For Policy Violation, Misconduct

The suspended SPY officers     Photo: Nigeria Police

 

 

Two supernumerary police officers have been suspended by the Nigeria Police for “discreditable conduct” and violation of the Force’s social media policy.

Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said in a statement on Friday that the officers, both female, were suspended with immediate effect “for breach of the provisions of the Police Act, 2020, and The Nigeria Police Guidelines for Recruitment/Promotion/Discipline of Supernumerary Police (SPY) 2013 by the Inspector-General of Police, as captured in a video posted by one of the officers”.

Adejobi identified the officers as Obaze Blessing with SPY number 5709, and Obaze Emmanuella Uju with SPY number 5708.

Videos of both officers on TikTok have made the rounds recently and the Force PRO noted that one of their videos went viral on August 3, 2022.

He said, in the video, the officers “adorned themselves in conventional police officers’ uniforms contrary to the code regulating the SPY service. One of them similarly adorned the rank of Superintendent of Police which is contrary to extant laws.

“Above all, they portrayed themselves in the viral video and other videos as undisciplined and unprofessional, in contravention of the Police Social Media Policy, with acts glorifying ill-gotten wealth and ill-morals, which has received wide condemnation from members of the public.”

Warning Against Misuse of Uniforms

In addition to suspending both officers, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, issued a strict warning against “incessant, illegal and unwarranted use of police uniforms restricted to bona fide serving officers of the Nigeria Police Force”.

In the statement, Adejobi clarified the role of supernumerary police and the dress code.

He said, “The Supernumerary Police, by the combined effects of the Police Act, 2020 and the Nigeria Police Guidelines for Recruitment/Promotion/Discipline of Supernumerary Police (SPY),2013 was established solely to complement the services of regular Police Officers when needed by Ministries, Departments and Agencies/Multi-National Companies, and Banks who make requests and upon approval pay for their training and cover their emoluments for the period of their engagement. (Sections 21-24 of the Police Act, 2020).

“It is equally important to mention that in line with Section 25 (2) (3) of the Police Act, 2020 and the Nigeria Police Guidelines for Recruitment/Promotion/Discipline of Supernumerary Police (SPY), 2013issued by the Inspector-General of Police (Guidelines for SPYs), the mode of dressing of SPY police mandates its SPY officers above the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police not to wear uniforms. Similarly, extant laws delineate the Supernumerary uniform.

“It states that they must be on their approved uniform, ash coloured shirt with “SPY” inscriptions all over, over black with shoulder badge carrying the word “SUPERNUMERARY”. Supernumerary Officers adorning police black, neon blue or camouflage uniforms run afoul of the law and would be adequately sanctioned.”

Facebook’s Meta Posts First-Ever Revenue Drop

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 28, 2021 the META logo on a laptop screen in Moscow as Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg announced the parent company’s name is being changed to “Meta” to represent a future beyond just its troubled social network.  (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

 

 

 

Facebook-parent Meta reported on Wednesday its first quarterly revenue drop and a plunging profit as the social media powerhouse battles a turbulent economy and the rising phenomenon of TikTok.

Meta had long delivered seemingly endless upward growth but after this income miss — and reporting earlier this year its first decline in global daily users — the company sounded a more modest tone.

“This is a period that demands more intensity, and I expect us to get more done with fewer resources,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg told analysts after the firm reported a 36 percent drop in profit to $6.7 billion.

Meta also said that revenue in the recently ended quarter ebbed a percent to $28.8 billion, its first such slip since the firm, then known simply as Facebook, went public in 2012.

“The year-over-year drop in quarterly revenue signifies just how quickly Meta’s business has deteriorated,” said analyst Debra Aho Williamson.

“The good news, if we can call it that, is that its competitors in digital advertising are also experiencing a slowdown.”

Meta however reported an increase in daily Facebook users to 1.97 billion, defying analysts’ predictions of a drop, but noted monthly users fell about two million to 2.93 billion.

Its shares were down around 3.5 percent in after-hours trading, continuing a decline in the firm’s stock since February that has erased about half of its value.

Meta has also faced steady scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators over not only its massive strength in the social media market, but also its impact on the health of its users.

The results came just hours after US regulators announced they would try to block Meta’s acquisition of virtual reality fitness app maker Within, a potential blow to the tech giant’s metaverse ambitions.

– US targets Meta VR purchase –
“This acquisition poses a reasonable probability of eliminating both present and future competition,” the FTC complaint said. “And Meta would be one step closer to its ultimate goal of owning the entire ‘Metaverse.'”

Meta is focused on building its metaverse vision for the internet’s future, betting heavily on the interactive virtual world that the company believes will ensure its powerful position.

The social media giant said the FTC’s move defied reality, and expressed confidence that its buy of Within would be good for VR users as well as developers who make apps in that market.

“The FTC’s case is based on ideology and speculation, not evidence,” Meta said in response to an AFP inquiry.

Meta has also faced turbulence as it tries to adapt its platforms to better battle short-video app TikTok, which is threatening the Silicon Valley giant’s primacy.

Meta-owned Instagram is attempting to quell complaints by users including celebrities Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian who say changes have made it too much like TikTok, including video recommendations.

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri posted a video on Twitter addressing the complaint, saying a number of changes were being experimented with and promising not to abandon photo sharing at the service.

“We are going to continue to support photos, it is part of our heritage,” Mosseri said.

Earnings season has gotten off to a less than great start with disappointing reports from Netflix, Snapchat’s parent company and Microsoft.

Snap announced plans last week to “substantially” slow recruitment after bleak results wiped some 30 percent off the stock price of the tech firm, which is facing difficulties on several fronts.

Even juggernaut Google reported its profit and revenue slipped as the internet giant’s long sizzling ad revenue growth cooled, but the market seemed relieved the news wasn’t worse.

The big tech platforms have been suffering from the economic climate, which is forcing advertisers to cut back on their marketing budgets, and Apple’s data privacy changes, which have reduced their leeway for ad personalization.

TikTok Ad Policy Is ‘Clear Abuse’ Of EU Law, Activists Say

 

 

Rights activists on Tuesday accused social media giant TikTok of breaching EU laws by co-opting users into sharing their data for targeted advertising.

TikTok said it would change its policy next week to allow data to be gathered from over-18s in Europe whether or not they had consented, claiming the move was allowed under Europe’s data protection law (GDPR).

But digital rights group Access Now wrote to the company asking for clarity on the legal basis, calling it a “clear abuse” of several European laws including GDPR.

“TikTok wants to strip away the rights of people who use the platform to bump its ad revenue,” said Estelle Masse of Access Now.

Masse said other social media platforms also had problems with their consent mechanisms but TikTok was “taking a step further” by “effectively suggesting that we should not have a say in deciding how our information is used”.

Social media firms gather vast troves of data on individuals’ online habits and use it to sell highly targeted advertising.

But the GDPR forces firms to give detailed justifications for gathering data, something social media platforms have struggled to do.

TikTok has said its policy change relies on a principle in the GDPR called “legitimate interest”, which allows companies to process data without giving a specific justification.

However, regulators have already begun to limit the use of legitimate interest.

They ruled in February that websites relying on the principle to opt-in users to targeted advertising were acting illegally.

AFP has asked TikTok for a response to the criticism.

TikTok, whose parent company ByteDance is Chinese, is also under pressure from lawmakers in the United States over its use of data after reports suggested it allowed its staff in China to access data on US-based users.

The social media company confirmed the reports last week in a letter to US Congress but said it would never allow Communist Party officials to access data on US users.

TikTok To Launch Ad Revenue-Sharing Program For Creators

A photo taken on December 14, 2018 in Paris shows the logo of the application TikTok. - TikTok, is a Chinese short-form video-sharing app, which has proved wildly popular this year. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)
A photo taken on December 14, 2018 in Paris shows the logo of the application TikTok. – TikTok, is a Chinese short-form video-sharing app, which has proved wildly popular this year. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

 

TikTok on Wednesday announced an ad revenue-sharing program with the social media platform’s most prominent creators, moving closer to a model already used by its competitors.

The short-video format app has become wildly popular in recent years with more than a billion active users globally, but has been criticized for not providing a way for creators to effectively monetize content.

Under the new TikTok Pulse program, companies can place their ads next to user content in specific categories, including health, fashion, cooking, gaming and others — and creators will get a cut.

“We will begin exploring our first advertising revenue share program with creators, public figures and media publishers,” the company, a subsidiary of Chinese tech firm ByteDance, said in a statement.

“We’re focused on developing monetization solutions in available markets so that creators feel valued and rewarded on TikTok.”

Only accounts with at least 100,000 subscribers will be eligible for the first phase of the program, TikTok said.

The firm’s North America General Manager Sandie Hawkins told tech website The Verge that Pulse will roll out in the United States in June, and that approved creators will get a 50 percent cut of ad revenue.

In 2021, TikTok generated an estimated 4.6 billion dollars in revenue, according to industry publication Business of Apps.

That figure is more than double the previous year’s revenue, but remains roughly on par with competitor Snapchat, which has about 300 million daily users, according to Snapchat’s data.

Other major social networks that focus on video, such as YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, have already implemented revenue-sharing systems.

‘Tiktok Is Having A Bad War,’ Say Disinformation Experts

In this file photo illustration taken on November 21, 2019, the logo of the social media video sharing app Tiktok is displayed on a tablet screen in Paris. . (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

 

 

The war in Ukraine has rapidly positioned TikTok as the number one source of misinformation thanks to its gigantic number of users and minimal filtering of content, experts say. 

Every day, Shayan Sardarizadeh, a journalist with the BBC’s disinformation team, ploughs through a hallucinatory mix of fake and misleading information about the war being spewed out on the video-sharing site.

“TikTok is really not having a good war,” he said.

“I haven’t seen another platform with so much false content,” he added.

“We’ve seen it all: videos from past conflicts being recycled, genuine footage presented in a misleading way, things that are so obviously false but still get tens of millions of views.”

He said the most disturbing were fake live-streams in which users pretended to be on the ground in Ukraine, but were actually using footage from other conflicts or even video games — and then asking for money to support their “reporting”.

“Millions tune in and watch. They even add fake gunshots and explosions,” said Sardarizadeh.

Anastasiya Zhyrmont of Access Now, an advocacy group, said it was no excuse to say that the war came as a surprise.

“This conflict has been escalating since 2014 and these problems of Kremlin propaganda and misinformation have been raised with TikTok long before the invasion,” she told AFP.

“They’ve promised to double their efforts and partner with content checkers, but I’m not sure they are taking this obligation seriously,” she added.

– ‘No context’ –
Zhyrmont said the problem may lie with the lack of Ukrainian language content moderators, making it trickier for TikTok to spot false information.

TikTok told AFP that it has Russian and Ukrainian speakers, but did not say how many, and said it had added resources specifically focused on the war, but did not provide details.

But some say the very nature of TikTok makes it problematic when subject matter becomes more serious than funny skits and dance routines.

“The way you consume information on TikTok — scrolling from one video to another really quickly — means there is no context on any given piece of content,” said Chine Labbe of NewsGuard, which tracks online misinformation.

NewsGuard ran an experiment to see how long it would take for new users to start receiving false information if they lingered on videos about the war.

The answer was 40 minutes.

“NewsGuard’s findings add to the body of evidence that TikTok’s lack of effective content-labelling and moderation, coupled with its skill at pushing users to content that keeps them on the app, have made the platform fertile ground for the spread of disinformation,” it concluded in its report.

TikTok recognises the problem.

In a blog post on March 4, it said it was using “a combination of technology and people to protect our platform” and partnering with independent fact-checkers to provide more context.

– ‘Really troubling’ –
In the meantime, the particular concern with TikTok is the age of its users: a third in the United States, for example, are 19 or younger.

“It’s hard enough for adults to decipher the real from the propaganda in Ukraine. For a young user to be fed all this false information is really troubling,” said Labbe.

All those interviewed emphasised that misinformation is rampant across all social media, but that TikTok had done even less than Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to combat it.

TikTok’s relative infancy also means its own users have not yet joined the fight as they have on other platforms.

“There are communities on Twitter and Instagram who are involved in disinformation,” said Sardarizadeh.

“Some are starting to do fact-checking and educate people on TikTok, but we’re talking about a dozen or two dozen, compared with hundreds on Twitter.”

TikTok Suspends Posting Of New Videos From Russia

In this file photo illustration taken on November 21, 2019, the logo of the social media video-sharing app Tiktok is displayed on a tablet screen in Paris. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

 

Social media giant TikTok announced Sunday it is suspending the posting of all video content from Russia in order to keep its employees safe and comply with the country’s new “fake news” regulations.

“In light of Russia’s new ‘fake news’ law, we have no choice but to suspend livestreaming and new content to our video service while we review the safety implications of this law,” the company said in a Twitter message, adding that its in-app messaging service will not be affected.

“We will continue to evaluate the evolving circumstances in Russia to determine when we might fully resume our services with safety as our top priority.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed into law a bill introducing jail terms of up to 15 years for publishing “fake news” about the Russian army, as Moscow pushes forward with its invasion of Ukraine.

Read Also: Putin Threatens Ukraine ‘Statehood’ As Moscow Sanctions Tighten

The law was met with a swift backlash from critics, but at the weekend, the Kremlin defended the new legislation, saying the country was facing “an information war” that required counter-action.

TikTok, with its one billion users worldwide, has helped revolutionize social media and the way artists are discovered.

In its Twitter thread, TikTok described itself as “an outlet for creativity and entertainment that can provide a source of relief and human connection during a time of war when people are facing immense tragedy and isolation.”

In a longer statement on its website, the company discussed the “devastating” war in Ukraine that, in addition to bringing widespread suffering across the country, has “brought pain to our community and our people.”

“And as a platform, this war has challenged us to confront a complex and rapidly changing environment as we look to be a canvas, a window, and a bridge for people across the globe.”

TikTok added that it recognizes “the heightened risk and impact of misleading information during a time of crisis,” and said it was working to boost its safety and security measures.

AFP

YouTube Woos Creators To Fend Off Competition

In this file photo taken on June 28, 2013, a webcam is positioned in front of YouTube’s logo in Paris.(Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP)

 

YouTube on Thursday laid out goals for the year that included making the lives of creators easier and boosting a popular format that rivals TikTok.

The video-sharing platform is investing in short-form and live video, along with tools to help creators make money and produce fresh content, according to chief product officer Neal Mohan.

“YouTube creators are the heart and soul of the platform, and we want them to always be able to fulfill their most ambitious creative goals,” Mohan said in a blog post.

“To give them every opportunity possible, we’ll continue to invest across our multiple formats.”

READ ALSO: 92-Year-Old Malawian Music Legend Finds Fame On Tiktok

Short-form content like the video snippets that are a winning ingredient at TikTok are incredibly popular. YouTube’s take on the concept, called “Shorts,” has logged more than five trillion all-time views, according to Mohan.

YouTube started a fund last year to reward those creating popular content on Shorts and is exploring ways for them to make money such as brand sponsorships, special chat forums, or adding the ability to shop directly from a posted video clip.

Short videos, typically made using smartphones, can be as long as 60 seconds, with music and comedy as popular themes.

Facebook and Instagram parent Meta has its own spin on the offering called Reels.

YouTube has also found success with its “Live” format, with users’ time spent watching it daily more than tripling over the course of last year, Mohan said.

The video giant is planning to begin letting creators collaborate on live streams in real-time.

“One of the biggest questions live-streaming creators have is, ‘What do I talk about?'” Mohan said.

“The ability to go live together should hopefully open upstreams to more casual conversation and interactions with other creators.”

YouTube has also started testing letting channel viewers buy gift memberships for others watching the same stream, according to Mohan.

In addition, YouTube is looking into incorporating new technologies such as blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to potentially let creators sell verifiably unique videos, photos, or art.

“There’s a lot to consider in making sure we approach these new technologies responsibly, but we think there’s incredible potential as well,” Mohan said.

YouTube has been a growing contributor to revenue at Google, which makes most of its money from online advertising.

AFP

92-Year-Old Malawian Music Legend Finds Fame On Tiktok

Malawian musician Giddes Chalamanda, 92, plays his acoustic Banjo at his home in the Madzuwa Village near Chiradzulu, southern Malawi, on January 13, 2022. At 92, Giddes Chalamanda has no idea what TikTok is. He doesn’t even own a smartphone. Amos Gumulira / AFP

 

At 92, Giddes Chalamanda has no idea what TikTok is. He doesn’t even own a smartphone.

And yet the Malawian music legend has become a social media star, with his song “Linny Hoo” garnering over 80 million views on the video-sharing platform and spawning mashups and remixes from South Africa to the Philippines.

“They come and show me the videos on their phones, but I have no idea how it works,” Chalamanda told AFP at his home on the edge of a macadamia plantation, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Malawi’s main city Blantyre.

“But I love the fact that people are enjoying themselves and that my talent is getting the right attention,” he said, speaking in Chewa.

Read Also: Nigerian Idol Returns With Dbanj, Simi As Judges

Despite his grey hair and slight stoop, the nonagenarian singer and guitarist, who has been a constant presence on the Malawian music scene for seven decades, displays a youthful exuberance as he sits chatting with a group of young fans.

He first recorded “Linny”, an ode to one of his daughters, in 2000.

But global acclaim only came two decades later when Patience Namadingo, a young gospel artist, teamed up with Chalamanda to record a reggae remix of “Linny” titled “Linny Hoo”.

The black-and-white video of the recording shows a smiling, gap-toothed Chalamanda, nattily dressed in a white shirt and V-neck sweater, jamming with Namadingo under a tree outside his home, with a group of neighbours looking on.

The video went viral after it was posted on YouTube, where it racked up more than 6.9 million views. Then late last year, it landed on TikTok and toured the globe.

Chalamanda only learned of the song’s sensational social media popularity from his children and their friends.

Since then he and Namadingo have recorded remixes of several others of his best-known tracks.

His daughter Linny’s 16-year-old son Stepson Austin told AFP that he was proud of his grandfather’s longevity.

“It is good that he has lived long enough to see this day,” said the youngster, who himself aspires to become a hip-hop artist.

Born in Chiradzulu, a small town in southern Malawi, Chalamanda won fame in his homeland with lilting songs such as “Buffalo Soldier” in which he dreams of visiting America and “Napolo”.

Over the past decade, he has collaborated with several younger musicians and still performs across the country.

‘Dance Around the World’

On TikTok, DJs and ordinary fans have created their own remixes as part of a #LinnyHooChallenge.

“When his music starts playing in a club or at a festival, everyone gets the urge to dance. That is how appealing it is,” musician and long-time collaborator Davis Njobvu told AFP.

“The fact that he has been there long enough to work with the young ones is special.”

South Africa-based music producer Joe Machingura attributed the global appeal of a song recorded in Chewa, one of Malawi’s most widely-spoken languages, to the sentiments underlying it.

“The old man sang with so much passion, it connects with whoever listens to it,” he said, adding: “It speaks to your soul.”

Chalamanda, a twice-married father of 14 children, only seven of whom, including Linny, are still alive, said he has no idea how to secure royalties for the TikTok plays.

Chalamanda and his wife hope to benefit financially from his new-found stardom.

“I am just surprised that despite the popularity of the song, there is nothing for me,” he said. “While I am excited that I have made people dance all around the world, there should be some gain for me. I need the money.”

His manager Pemphero Mphande told AFP that he was looking into the issue and the Copyright Society of Malawi said it was ready to assist.

Arts curator Tammy Mbendera of the Festival Institute in Malawi credited platforms like TikTok with creating new opportunities for African talent.

“With songs from our past especially, they were written with such profoundness that they still can resonate today,” she said.

“All one has to do really, is get the chance to experience it, to acknowledge its significance. I think that’s what happened here.”

TikTok Ramps Up Privacy Protection For Teens

This photo, taken on July 2, 2021, shows the TikTok logo displayed on a mobile phone screen. Taiwo Adeshina/Channels Television.
This photo, taken on July 2, 2021, shows the TikTok logo displayed on a mobile phone screen. Taiwo Adeshina/Channels Television.

 

TikTok became the latest tech company Thursday to announce tighter protections for teenagers as social media platforms come under increased scrutiny over their privacy safeguards.

The short video-sharing app will roll out a number of features in the coming months, including a default curb for 16 and 17-year-olds on in-app messaging unless it is switched to a different setting.

Under 16s will see a pop-up message when they publish their first video, asking them to choose who can watch.

And users aged 16 and 17 will be able to receive a pop-up asking them to confirm who can download their videos. Downloads are already disabled on content posted by under 16s.

The Chinese-owned platform will also stop sending push notifications to users aged 13 to 16 from 9pm — and an hour later for 16 to 17-year-olds — with the aim of reducing their screen time at night.

The moves announced by head of child safety public policy Alexandra Evans and global head of privacy Aruna Sharma build on previous measures to protect young users from predators, bullies and other online dangers.

“It’s important to ensure even stronger proactive protections to help keep teens safe, and we’ve continually introduced changes to support age-appropriate experiences on our platform,” Evans and Sharma said.

“We want to help our younger teens in particular develop positive digital habits early on.”


READ ALSOInside The World Of Nigeria’s ‘Teenage’ TikTok Stars

READ ALSOFG Says It Has Indefinitely Suspended Twitter Operations In Nigeria

READ ALSO: [#TwitterBan] We Are Monitoring Closely Repression In Nigeria, Says Commonwealth


In this file photo illustration taken on November 21, 2019, the logo of the social media video sharing app Tiktok is displayed on a tablet screen in Paris. (Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP)

 

Google, YouTube and Facebook-Instagram have all recently bolstered defenses for teen users, while critics have been urging Facebook to abandon plans for a children’s version of Instagram.

TikTok was the world’s most downloaded app last year, overtaking Facebook and its messaging platforms, according to market tracker App Annie.

The video app surged in popularity, according to market tracker App Annie, despite efforts by former president Donald Trump to ban it or force a sale to US-based investors.

AFP

TikTok Tops Facebook As Most Downloaded App Of 2020

tik-tok
This illustration photo taken on June 29, 2020 shows a person using the video-sharing app TikTok on a smartphone in New Delhi.  Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP

 

TikTok was the world’s most downloaded app last year, overtaking Facebook and its messaging platforms, market tracker App Annie said Tuesday.

The Chinese-owned video app surged in popularity despite efforts by former president Donald Trump to ban it or force a sale to US-based investors, according to the research firm.

TikTok, owned by China-based ByteDance, is believed to have one billion users worldwide including more than 100 million in the United States, and its short-form videos are especially popular with young smartphone users.

US President Joe Biden in June revoked executive orders from his predecessor seeking to ban TikTok and Chinese-owned WeChat from US markets on national security concerns but ordered a review of the potential risks of foreign-owned internet services.

While political debate about the video-snippet sharing sensation roiled, TikTok climbed from the fourth most downloaded app in 2019 to the top spot last year, according to App Annie data.

On the way, TikTok stepped over Facebook and two of the US internet giants texting apps Messenger and WhatsApp, the market tracker determined.

READ ALSOInside The World Of Nigeria’s ‘Teenage’ TikTok Stars

In this file illustration photo taken on March 25, 2020, a Facebook app logo is displayed on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file illustration photo taken on March 25, 2020, a Facebook app logo is displayed on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

TikTok’s popularity has prompted Facebook-owned Instagram to add video features to ride the hot trend.

Meanwhile TikTok last month began letting users post videos up to three minutes in length, tripling the prior cap to stay ahead of competitors.

Facebook has argued that the surge in TikTok’s popularity undercuts claims from antitrust enforcers in the United States that the California group dominates social networking.

AFP

Again, Pakistan Blocks TikTok

File photo:  A woman watches a video of Egyptian influencer Haneen Hossam, who was sentenced to two years in jail on charges of violation public morals, on the video-sharing app TikTok in Egypt’s capital Cairo on July 28, 2020. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

 

The popular TikTok video-sharing app was blocked Wednesday in Pakistan for a fourth time because of “inappropriate content”, the country’s telecommunication regulator said. 

The Chinese-owned site has fought a series of legal battles with religious activists and authorities in the conservative Muslim nation, and was shut down for two days earlier this month on the order of a provincial court.

Freedom of speech advocates have long criticised creeping government censorship and control of Pakistan’s internet and media.

“The action has been taken due to continuous presence of inappropriate content on the platform and its failure to take such content down,” the telecoms authority said in a statement.

READ ALSO: WhatsApp Sues Indian Government Over Social Media Clampdown

This photo, taken on July 2, 2021, shows the TikTok logo displayed on a mobile phone screen. Taiwo Adeshina/Channels Television.
This photo, taken on July 2, 2021, shows the TikTok logo displayed on a mobile phone screen. Taiwo Adeshina/Channels Television.

 

A local TikTok representative did not immediately comment.

The app has a huge fan base in Pakistan, where many people use it to market and sell goods online.

But its critics in the deeply conservative Muslim nation say it promotes vulgarity and LGBTQ content.

In June, TikTok said it had removed more than six million videos available to Pakistan users in just three months following complaints from officials and ordinary users.

Around 15 percent of the videos removed were taken down because of “adult nudity and sexual activities”, the company said.

Officials have previously asked YouTube to block content they deem objectionable, and several dating apps are prohibited.

AFP