This week in social media news, President Trump issues an executive order banning TikTok and WeChat in 45 days if they’re not sold by their parent companies, TikTok responds to Trump’s order, Twitter adds new labels to the tweets and accounts of government officials, TikTok launches an app on Amazon’s Fire TV, Instagram launches Reels globally, Microsoft confirms it’s considering buying TikTok in the US and more.
President Trump Signs Order Banning TikTok, WeChat If Not Sold In 45 Days
On Thursday, President Trump issued executive orders that would ban both TikTok and WeChat from the US in 45 days if they’re not sold by their Chinese-owned parent companies, ByteDance and Tencent, respectively.
Why it matters: The order comes days after Microsoft announced it’s in talks with ByteDance about acquiring TikTok’s US operations, and after TikTok updated its fact-checking and misinformation moderation policies amid intense national scrutiny.
The details: Trump’s TikTok order bans after 45 days “any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with ByteDance Ltd.”
For WeChat, the order would mean a ban on “any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with Tencent Holdings Ltd. (a.k.a. Téngxùn Kònggǔ Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī), Shenzhen, China, or any subsidiary of that entity, as identified by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) under section 1(c) of this order.”
TikTok Responds To Trump’s Executive Order To Ban The App
In a company statement, TikTok asserts President Trump’s executive order that will ban the app if it isn’t sold in 45 days, which was signed yesterday, was issued “without any due process,” citing the platform has tried engaging with the US for nearly a year to devise a “constructive solution” to Washington’s concerns.
Why it matters: After reversing a decision to outright ban the app, contingent on TikTok selling its US stake, Trump issued an executive order that will ban Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat if they’re not sold within 45 days.
The details: As per TikTok’s company post:
“We have made clear that TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request. In fact, we make our moderation guidelines and algorithm source code available in our Transparency Center, which is a level of accountability no peer company has committed to. We even expressed our willingness to pursue a full sale of the US business to an American company.”
TikTok also said it “will be here for many years to come,” encouraging creators to express “your opinions to your elected representatives.”
Twitter Will Label Tweets And Accounts Of Government Officials, State-Controlled Media
Twitter is adding new labels for accounts and tweets connected to government officials and state-affiliated media as part of a larger effort to protect political discourse and increase transparency and accountability, the company announced in a blog post.
Why it matters: Twitter’s labeling initiative follows a similar one Facebook introduced in June.
The details: Twitter will add labels to the accounts of key government officials including foreign ministers, institutional entities, ambassadors, official spokespeople and key diplomatic leaders; starting with the US, China, France, the UK and Russia. In addition, the accounts of state-affiliated media, their editors-in-chief and their senior staff will be labeled.
TikTok Launches “More on TikTok” App On Amazon Fire TV
TikTok made its first foray into video streaming this week when it launched an app on Amazon Fire TV called “More on TikTok,” according to Business Insider.
Why it matters: TikTok’s connected television endeavor comes a month after Amazon issued an email ordering employees not to use TikTok on company smartphones over potential security risks.
The details: The “More on TikTok” app, which is free to download, will let Fire TV users in the US stream TikTok videos on their television through Amazon devices.
“People are looking for community right now and TikTok is connecting users to content and people that resonate and are meaningful to them,” said TikTok’s head of global marketing Nick Tran in a statement.
Instagram Launches Reels Feature Globally
Instagram has officially launched its TikTok-style feature Reels, which enables users to record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio and augmented reality (AR) effects that can be shared in Instagram’s feed.
Why it matters: Though Reels has been in the making for a while—it was first tested in 2019 in Brazil—Facebook’s timing is lucky given government threats to ban TikTok in the US have led some users to delete TikTok.
The details: Reels is now available in the US, in addition to key international markets including the UK, India, Brazil, Germany, France and Japan, among others. Reels that are shared from public accounts are eligible to be discovered through a new section on Instagram’s Explore page.
To create Reels, users can record a series of clips or upload videos from their album. Clickable hashtags can also be added to Reels.
Microsoft Confirms It’s In Talks To Acquire TikTok In The US
Following the government’s threat to ban TikTok in the US, Microsoft published a statement saying it is in fact considering buying TikTok from parent company ByteDance, and will make a decision by September 15.
Why it matters: President Trump said the US government would seek a “very large percentage” on the TikTok transaction.
The details: As per Microsoft:
“The two companies have provided notice of their intent to explore a preliminary proposal that would involve a purchase of the TikTok service in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and would result in Microsoft owning and operating TikTok in these markets. Microsoft may invite other American investors to participate on a minority basis in this purchase.”
The company added that any new structure would build on the current TikTok experience, while any private data currently stored or backed-up outside the US would be deleted from servers outside the country after it is transferred.
Snapchat Shares Regional Audience Insights
Snapchat has updated its Snap Focus education module to reflect stats on its 304 million “addressable reach” users worldwide, the average number of Snapchatters a brand’s ad could potentially reach over 28 days.
Why it matters: The new insights follow Snapchat’s Q2 report showing its daily active users grew 17 percent year-over-year to 238 million.
The details: Snapchat’s addressable reach in the US and Canada is 108 million; in Europe, 77 million; in the Middle East and North Africa, 51 million; in Latin and South America, 32 million; in India, 30 million; and in Australia, 6 million.
As per Snapchat, addressable reach is “based on recent data for your selected targeting criteria and placements, so it may not be predictive for your combination of flight dates, budget, and optimization strategy. [Addressible Reach] size is not the same as monthly active users. It may vary due to performance and seasonality.”
Retailer Apps See Highest Rate Of Location Opt-In In Years
A new Airship study of 750 million devices found the number of smartphone users who opted-in to share their location data reached 23 percent during the pandemic, a 31 percent increase from before the pandemic and the highest rate in years.
Why it matters: The uptick in location data sharing reverses a downward trend reported in previous years due to privacy laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation the European Union enacted two years ago.
The details: According to Airship, retailer apps outperformed location sharing data rates across categories like utilities (14 percent), travel and transportation (12 percent), media (8.2 percent) and entertainment (7.1 percent).
App usage also spiked during the pandemic, as Airship says the average number of app opens per user grew 29 percent from March.
Snapchat Licenses Rights From Major Music Labels
Snapchatters in New Zealand and Australia can now add music to their Snaps as part of a test following a licensing deal Snapchat made with major companies like Warner Music Group, Merlin and Universal Music Publishing Group, Bloomberg reports.
Why it matters: Snapchat’s new music feature will let the app catch up to rivals Instagram and TikTok, which already offer users the ability to add music to their video clips. The move to add music comes just days after Snapchat launched its first brand-facing campaign highlighting Gen Z appeal.
The details: According to Bloomberg, starting Monday, Snapchat will launch a test of the new music feature in New Zealand and Australia, with plans to make it more widely available later this year. The deal will enable Snapchatters to use music in their videos without violating copyrights.
TikTok US General Manager Affirms App Is Here For The Long Run
TikTok’s US general manager Vanessa Pappas said in a video posted to the app’s discover page that TikTok isn’t planning on going anywhere, and is working on making it “the safest app.”
Why it matters: Pappas’ video message follows President Trump’s threats to ban the app in the US, which has led Microsoft to explore an acquisition of TikTok’s operations in the US, according to Bloomberg.
The details: Pappas begins the 60-second video with:
“I want to say thank you to the millions of Americans who use TikTok everyday bringing their creativity and joy into our daily lives. We’ve heard your outpouring of support and we want to say thank you. We’re not planning on going anywhere.”
Pappas goes on to thank TikTok’s 1,500 US employees, adding the app plans on bringing 15,000 new jobs to the country over the next three years.
Pappas affirms TikTok is “here for the long run” and is working on “building the safest app because we know it’s the right thing to do,” encouraging users to continue sharing their voice on the app.
The video has received 1.8 million views.
Microsoft Eyes Acquisition Of TikTok’s US Operations
Microsoft is said to be in talks to buy TikTok in the US from its Chinese parent company ByteDance, as reported by FOX Business.
Why it matters: Owing to concerns over TikTok’s ties to China, the Trump administration has been weighing whether to force ByteDance to sell its stake in TikTok’s US operations, according to FOX Business.
The details: TikTok and Microsoft have declined to comment, and there are “two to three serious buyers that have expressed interest,” a person with direct knowledge told FOX. The source said that discussions between Microsoft began about a month ago.
Twitter Surveys Users On Paid Subscription Features
Since confirming it’s testing a subscription platform, Twitter has been surveying users on a list of paid features the platform might offer, as spotted by social media expert Matt Navarra.
Why it matters: Asking users which features they’d be willing to pay for signals Twitter’s progress on developing a subscription service at a time when Facebook is under fire from congress, brands and civil rights groups.
The details: The range of extra services Twitter’s subscription platform might include are an undo send option, custom color options, auto-replies, profile badges, advanced video publishing tools, job listings, education resources and insights into other accounts. Twitter is also asking users if they’d pay for an ad-free experience.
In Q2, Pinterest Adds 49 Million More Users, Sees 4 Percent Revenue Increase
Pinterest reached 416 million monthly active users (MAUs) and saw a four percent increase in revenue, according to the company’s Q2 performance report.
Why it matters: Pinterest’s performance update marks a dramatic improvement on Q1, when the platform’s growth was stagnant. Following the announcement, Pinterest shares spiked 25 percent.
The details: Pinterest added 49 million more users in Q2, a 39 percent increase globally year-over-year. About the update Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann said:
“People needed Pinterest in Q2. They needed a service that helped them adjust to radically changed circumstances – one that inspired them to cook at home, build vegetable gardens, plan activities for their kids and set up remote offices and home gyms, to name just a few typical COVID-19-related use cases we saw during the quarter.”