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TikTok might leave China to allay security concerns

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TikTok is facing bans and probes all over the world, and most of them are pointing to their Chinese roots. Now, to put these concerns at rest, the app’s parent company, Bytedance, is considering moving the headquarters out of China to establish a more global identity.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Bytedance is planning a corporate structure overhaul. Apart from moving the head office out of China, it’s also considering creating a new management board for the short video app.

This is not entirely surprising, given TikTok is — or at least it was before the Indian ban and Hong Kong pull out — one of the fastest-growing apps across the world. Plus, it had already sowed seeds to push its global image by hiring former Disney executive Kevin Mayer to head international operations in May.

After India, more governments across the world are thinking of banning TikTok. Earlier this week, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said that the government is certainly ‘looking at’ barring Chinese apps including TikTok. Australia has also expressed concerns over privacy and security given the app’s Chinese roots.

TikTok might have to act quickly to show the world that it’s truly a global app and put security concerns at rest.

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Leak: Google could be working on a foldable Pixel phone for 2021

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We’ve been hearing rumors of a folding Pixel phone for over a year, with former Pixel lead Mario Queiroz even confirming Google was “prototyping” the form factor. Since then, we’ve heard little else about such a device, but a leaked document reviewed by 9to5Google suggests it could indeed become a reality — but you’ll have to wait a while yet.

According to 9to5Google, the document lists builds of Android for upcoming devices referred to by codenames. ‘Raven’ and ‘Oriole’ could be Pixel 6 variants, while ‘barbette’ seems to be the Pixel 5a (as in next year’s model, not the just-announced Pixel 4a). Those are educated guesses, but one device, codenamed ‘passport,’ is “explicitly referred to as being a ‘foldable’.”

The presumed Pixel 6 and foldable variants are slated for a Q4 2021 launch, while the Pixel 5a is slated for an announcement in Q2 of 2021. That’s just about what one would expect from Google in a normal year, though it’s not clear if the Pixel 4a’s delayed release will affect the Pixel 5a.

9to5Google also points out that given the list is used for Android development, it may not reflect what actually ends up going on sale. Still it’s interesting to see that Google appears to still be considering entering the foldable market; it’d be interesting to see what Google would do with a foldable device, considering the company tends to focus on mainstream users rather than power users.

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Published August 6, 2020 — 21:06 UTC

Napier Lopez

Napier Lopez

August 6, 2020 — 21:06 UTC

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You can now try the macOS Big Sur public beta

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Apple today made the first public beta of macOS Big Sur — version 11 of Apple’s desktop OS — a month after it did so for iOS and iPadOS 14. The update promises an all-new design that blends Apple’s clean modern aesthetic with its skeuomorphic tendencies of old. It also borrows several ideas from iOS, including a Control Center and redesigned Notification Center.

Though the company already released preview versions of the OS for developers, its public betas don’t require special credentials and are generally considered more stable than the more iterative updates developers get to play with.

Getting it on your system is simple: just head on over to Apple’s Beta Software Program page, and sign up to try Big Sur (or any other of the available software updates announced at WWDC). You’ll have to sign in with your Apple ID to access the software, and then select ‘enroll your devices’ to pick which ones will get the beta update.

Keep in mind the public beta is over 12GB, so it’ll take a while to download and you should make sure you have a good buffer before installing the OS. As always, it’s a good idea to make a backup before installing beta software on your primary computer, and though Apple‘s public betas tend to be stable, there’s always a chance things can go amiss. Install at your own risk.

For more on what you can expect from macOS Big Sur, check out our announcement post here.

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Published August 6, 2020 — 19:27 UTC

Napier Lopez

Napier Lopez

August 6, 2020 — 19:27 UTC

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Twitter begins labeling state-affiliated media and government officials

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In the age of social media, Twitter is one of the primary ways governments and politicians speak to their constituents–and how they can potentially spread propaganda. Following a similar move by Facebook, Twitter will soon begin to label accounts strongly associated with governments.

Twitter is providing two distinct labels:

  1. One for “key government officials, including foreign ministers, institutional entities, ambassadors, official spokespeople, and key diplomatic leaders.” The company says it’s focusing primarily on senior officials and other amplified voices
  2. One for “state-affiliated media entities, their editors-in-chief, and/or their senior staff “

If you click on one of the labels, you’ll be redirected to an article explaining the policy. To start, Twitter is only applying labels from the five permanent members of the UN Security CouncilChina, France, Russia, the UK, and the US. The company plans to expand to “a wider range of countries” in the future.

Somewhat confusingly, the company also says that it currently isn’t labeling ” the personal accounts of heads of state, as these accounts enjoy widespread name recognition, media attention, and public awareness.” While that’s understandable, there also doesn’t seem to be any harm in labeling these accounts for the people who may not be in the know.

Things get a bit more interesting with the state-affiliated media category. Twitter defines them as such:

State-affiliated media is defined as outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution. Unlike independent media, state-affiliated media frequently use their news coverage as a means to advance a political agenda. We believe that people have the right to know when a media account is affiliated directly or indirectly with a state actor.

These accounts and their tweets will no longer be amplified through Twitter’s recommendation system, including the home timeline, notifications, and search (this does not apply to the first category).

To be clear, the company isn’t labeling media organizations that are state-financed if they are considered to have editorial independence, like the BBC in the UK or NPR in the US. Twitter said it consulted with experts to develop its categorization process, including members of its Digital and Human Rights Advisory group. If an account owner feels they’ve been improperly labeled, they can appear the decision to Twitter.


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