TikTok launches MENA newsroom

TikTok launches MENA newsroom
The Arabic-language MENA newsroom aims to assist the regional media with the latest regional news. (Supplied)
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Updated 30 September 2021

TikTok launches MENA newsroom

TikTok launches MENA newsroom
  • Arabic-language MENA newsroom aims to assist the media with the latest regional news

DUBAI: TikTok has launched a dedicated Arabic-language MENA newsroom with the aim of assisting the regional media with the latest regional news. The newsroom will feature announcements related to trends on the platform, in-app developments and safety.

“Given all the exciting news we have been sharing in recent months, we wanted to offer everyone a central convenient location to keep up with all of our exciting updates,” Hany Kamel, Content Operations Director at TikTok MENA, said.

“The coming months will be brimming with further activations, and through the TikTok MENA newsroom we invite all to keep close tabs on our announcements and events and to get involved where possible. As the world’s leading short-form video platform, now welcoming over a billion users a month, we are delighted to share our journey with visitors to the newsroom, who can browse through the latest trends, in-app developments, creators and safety updates in real-time.”

Country-specific newsrooms are also available in markets such as India, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Taiwan and Myanmar.


A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores

A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores
Updated 30 June 2022

A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores

A US FCC commissioner urges Apple, Google to boot TikTok from app stores

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: A Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission has urged the chief executives of Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc’s Google to kick Chinese-owned TikTok out of its app stores.
Brendan Carr, the FCC commissioner, said in a letter to the CEOs, dated June 24 and sent on FCC letterhead, that video-sharing app TikTok has collected vast troves of sensitive data about US users that could be accessed by ByteDance staff in Beijing. ByteDance is TikTok’s Chinese parent.
Carr tweeted details of the letter on Tuesday.
“TikTok is not just another video app. That’s the sheep’s clothing,” Carr said on Twitter. “It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.”
Carr asked the companies to either remove TikTok from their app stores by July 8 or explain to him why they did not plan to do so.
Carr’s request is unusual given that the FCC does not have clear jurisdiction over the content of app stores. The FCC regulates the national security space usually through its authority to grant certain communications licenses to companies.

A TikTok spokeswoman said the company’s engineers in locations outside of the United States, including China, can be granted access to US user data “on an as-needed basis” and under “strict controls.”
Google declined comment on Carr’s letter, while Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
TikTok has been under US regulatory scrutiny over its collection of US personal data. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews deals by foreign acquirers for potential national security risks, ordered ByteDance in 2020 to divest TikTok because of fears that US user data could be passed on to China’s communist government.
To address these concerns, TikTok said earlier this month that it migrated the information of its US users to servers at Oracle Corp.
A spokesperson for the US Department of the Treasury, which chairs CFIUS, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“What we’re seeing here from Commissioner Carr is a suggestion that at least some parts of the US government don’t think that this is enough,” Richard Sofield, a national security partner at law firm Vinson & Elkins LLP, said about TikTok’s partnership with Oracle. 


US newspapers continuing to die at rate of 2 each week

US newspapers continuing to die at rate of 2 each week
Updated 30 June 2022

US newspapers continuing to die at rate of 2 each week

US newspapers continuing to die at rate of 2 each week

NEW YORK: Despite a growing recognition of the problem, the United States continues to see newspapers die at the rate of two per week, according to a report issued Wednesday on the state of local news.
Areas of the country that find themselves without a reliable source of local news tend to be poorer, older and less educated than those covered well, Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications said.
The country had 6,377 newspapers at the end of May, down from 8,891 in 2005, the report said. While the pandemic didn’t quite cause the reckoning that some in the industry feared, 360 newspapers have shut down since the end of 2019, all but 24 of them weeklies serving small communities.
An estimated 75,000 journalists worked in newspapers in 2006, and now that’s down to 31,000, Northwestern said. Annual newspaper revenue slipped from $50 billion to $21 billion in the same period.
Even though philanthropists and politicians have been paying more attention to the issue, the factors that drove the collapse of the industry’s advertising model haven’t changed. Encouraging growth in the digital-only news sector in recent years hasn’t been enough to compensate for the overall trends, said Penelope Muse Abernathy, visiting professor at Medill and the report’s principal author.
Many of the digital-only sites are focused on single issues and are clustered in or close to big cities near the philanthropic money that provides much of their funding, the report said.
News “deserts” are growing: The report estimated that some 70 million Americans live in a county with either no local news organization or only one.
“What’s really at stake in that is our own democracy, as well as our social and societal cohesion,” Abernathy said.
True “daily” newspapers that are printed and distributed seven days a week are also dwindling; The report said 40 of the largest 100 newspapers in the country publish only- digital versions at least once a week. Inflation is likely to hasten a switch away from printed editions, said Tim Franklin, director of the Medill Local News Initiative.
Much of the industry churn is driven by the growth in newspaper chains, including new regional chains that have bought hundreds of newspapers in small or mid-sized markets, the report said.
Less than a third of the country’s 5,147 weekly newspapers and a dozen of 150 city and regional daily papers are now locally-owned and operated, Medill said.
Abernathy’s report pointed to a handful of “local heroes” to counter the pessimism that the raw numbers provide. One is Sharon Burton, publisher and editor of the Adair County Community Voice in Kentucky, where she pushes her staff toward aggressive journalism while also successfully lobbying to expand postal subsidies for rural newspapers.


The Marketing Society launches gender equality program

The Marketing Society launches gender equality program
Updated 29 June 2022

The Marketing Society launches gender equality program

The Marketing Society launches gender equality program
  • Program aims to have equal female representation on industry panels and in mid to high-level roles

DUBAI: Industry body The Marketing Society announced its first gender equality program in the region, titled “Gender Equality Acceleration,” at an event held at the TikTok lounge in Dubai.

The event was attended by over 75 senior marketers and their teams.

The Gender Equality Acceleration Program aims to break barriers by increasing gender equality at mid and high levels of management in the marketing and communications industry across the UAE and the wider Gulf region.

“This initiative not only better educates both genders on how to find their voice to ensure there are equal opportunities at senior levels in all organizations, but, more importantly, provides an essential support network to build the self-belief of many women, giving them the strength to truly believe they deserve the recognition of a leadership role,” said Abby Lyons, co-founder and managing partner of House of Comms.

A key focus of this project is to make an actual impact — not just talk about gender equality without any real change. In order to achieve this, The Marketing Society will hold training, events, mentoring, policy changes, and other decisive actions to bring about real change.

For example, the body will work closely with different conference producers and event organizers to support them in having equal representation on panels by creating an accessible speaker directory that spotlights female experts in the industry. The goal is to have half of all speakers be women on panels across the marketing and communications industry by 2023.

The Marketing Society will also organize and host identified training and masterclasses with over 50 women by December 2022, and share best practices to inspire and empower businesses of all sizes to launch and follow the initiative.

Mohammed Ismaeel Hameedaldin, partner at Toughlove Advisors and chair of The Marketing Society Dubai, said: “Marketers are changemakers within businesses who can make an impact and make a difference.”

He added: “The time for talk is over, it’s about action and we look forward to supporting this through our planned activities and engaging the whole industry to speed up change.”

The Marketing Society is a global community that strives for a more diverse and inclusive leadership to shape, support, and steer the region’s top marketers. It is looking for more partners to join this initiative and work alongside the program’s founding partner, TikTok.


Social media companies could be sued for addicting children in California 

Social media companies could be sued for addicting children in California 
Updated 29 June 2022

Social media companies could be sued for addicting children in California 

Social media companies could be sued for addicting children in California 
  • Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat could be sued under the state’s law

LONDON: The California state senate voted on Tuesday to pass a law that would allow state lawyers to sue social media companies, such as Facebook and TikTok, for features that harm children. 

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat could be sued under the state’s law if a prosecutor believes the companies utilized features they knew or should have known would addict minors.  

Supported by youth advocates, teachers’ unions and customer groups, the bill passed by a vote of 8-0. 

“I was addicted to the place that was killing me, that was reminding me of who I would never become, what I would never look [like],” activist Larissa May said in the hearing. “There needs to be some accountability. The more that we suffer, the more money that they make.”

However, Dylan Hoffman, an executive director at Technet, testified that the measure would violate free speech rights because the algorithms used to curate content on social media platforms are a protected form of speech.

In an earlier version of the bill, parents would have been able to sue the companies for harm to their children.

However, after lobbying from business and tech groups, the bill was amended so that only government attorneys can file the lawsuits.

The measure must be approved before the end of the legislative session in August. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has not taken a public position on the bill.

In response, Meta, Twitter and Snapchat have individually lobbied against the measure.

While Meta has increased the age-verification protocols on Instagram, a Meta representative said the measure would do nothing to encourage companies to make meaningful changes.  

“We want to make sure that the people on our platforms have a safe and positive experience,” said a Meta spokesperson.


Russia moves forward on proposed law on banning foreign media

Russia moves forward on proposed law on banning foreign media
Updated 29 June 2022

Russia moves forward on proposed law on banning foreign media

Russia moves forward on proposed law on banning foreign media
  • The proposal must still pass a third reading in the Duma and secure the upper house's approval
  • The draft law also calls for allowing Russia's prosecutor general to cancel the registration of media outlets

MOSCOW: The lower house of Russia’s parliament on Wednesday approved the critical second reading of a proposed law that would allow the banning of foreign news media in response to other countries taking actions against Russian news outlets.
The proposal must still pass a third reading in the Duma and secure the upper house’s approval before going to President Vladimir Putin to be signed into law. But the Duma’s approval on second reading, when a proposal still can undergo substantial changes, almost always prefigures a law’s enactment.
Russia has repeatedly complained in recent months that Western countries were improperly restricting Russian media by banning their operation or denying visas to their journalists. In early June, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called in representatives of American media, including The Associated Press, to warn that they could be denied renewal of their visas and accreditation.
The draft law also calls for allowing Russia’s prosecutor general to cancel the registration of media outlets for disseminating “illegal, dangerous, unreliable publicly significant information or information expressing clear disrespect for society, the state, the Constitution of the Russian Federation, as well as aimed at discrediting the Russian armed forces,” state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.
Many foreign news organizations suspended or curtailed their operations in Russia following the passage in March of a law calling for up to 15 years in prison for reports seen as discrediting the Russian military.
The foreign ministry in May ordered the closure of the Moscow bureau pf the state-funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in response to Canada’s ban on RT, a Russian state-controlled broadcaster.
In February, as Russia built up troops along Ukraine’s border, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle was ordered to close in Moscow after Germany banned the broadcast of RT’s German-language programs.
Before the vote on the second reading, Vladimir Solovev, the head of the Russian Journalists’ Union, told the committee preparing the draft that the measure was justified by an “information war unprecedented in history” against Russia.
Russia in recent years has persistently clamped down on independent journalism. Following the start of the Ukraine conflict, many significant independent news media shut down or suspended operations. Those included the Ekho Moskvy radio station and the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, whose editor, Dmitry Muratov, was last year’s co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.