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33% of US TikTok users say they regularly get their news on the app, up from 22% in 2020

Earlier this summer, a Google exec admitted that TikTok was eating into its core Search business, particularly among younger users. But that’s not all TikTok is now being used for, a new Pew Research Center study indicates. According to the findings from a report that examined Americans’ use of social media for news consumption, 33% of TikTok users now say they regularly get their news on the social video app, up from just 22% in 2020.
Meanwhile, nearly every other social media site saw declines across that same metric — including, in particular, Facebook, where now only 44% of its users report regularly getting their news there, down from 54% just two years ago.
Image Credits: Pew Research
This data suggests TikTok has grown from being just an entertainment platform for lip syncs, dances, and comedy to one that many of its users turn to in order to learn about what’s happening in their world.
That may raise concerns, given TikTok’s connections to China — a topic it was recently pressed to clarify in a Senate hearing focused on national security. The hearing had followed the release of a BuzzFeed News report that had discovered how China-based ByteDance employees had been regularly accessing TikTok’s U.S. users’ private data.
If TikTok were to become one of the primary ways younger people in the U.S. learned about news and current events, then the app could potentially provide a channel for a foreign power to influence those users’ beliefs with subtle tweaks to its algorithm.

Meta, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter dodge questions on social media and national security

For the time being, however, TikTok is not a primary source of news consumption across social media — that honor still resides with Facebook.
Pew found that 31% of U.S. adults report regularly getting their news from Facebook, which is higher than the 25% who get their news from YouTube, the 14% who get it from Twitter, or the13% who get it from Instagram.
TikTok was in fifth place by this ranking, as only 10% of U.S. adults said they regularly get their news on the video app. (Of course, when TikTok’s sizable user base of those under the age of 18 grows up, these metrics could quickly change.)
LinkedIn (4%), Snapchat (4%), Nextdoor (4%), WhatsApp (3%) and Twitch (1%) were much smaller sources of news among Americans, the study also found.
Image Credits: Pew Research
In addition, Pew somewhat backed up Google’s assertion that it was losing traction to TikTok and other social media apps, as it noted that the percentage of U.S. adults who got their news via web search had dropped from 23% in 2020 to 18% in 2022.
But it didn’t necessarily point to TikTok or any other social platform as gaining, as the percentage of adults using social media of any sort for news consumption dropped from 23% to 17% between 2020 and 2022, as did other forms of news consumption like news websites and apps.
Image Credits: Pew Research
It’s not clear that any single platform is benefiting from these declines, as Pew didn’t uncover a shift from digital news sources to others, such as TV, print or radio — all those saw declines in news consumption as well.
Image Credits: Pew Research
Still, digital devices continue to outpace TV, Pew said, as the latter has seen its usage drop as a source for news consumption from 40% in 2020 to 31% in 2022.
Plus, when asked about preferences, more Americans (53%) said they would rather get their news digitally than on TV (33%), radio (7%), or print (5%) — an answer that’s stayed consistent since 2020.

Google exec suggests Instagram and TikTok are eating into Google’s core products, Search and Maps

33% of US TikTok users say they regularly get their news on the app, up from 22% in 2020 by Sarah Perez originally published on TechCrunch
33% of US TikTok users say they regularly get their news on the app, up from 22% in 2020

Amazon shuts down its personal file storage service to focus on photos

Amazon’s consumer-focused storage service, Amazon Drive, will wind down over the next year, Amazon announced today. In an email to users, the company said that it was taking the opportunity to “more fully focus” its efforts on Amazon Photos, Amazon’s answer to iCloud Photos and Google Photos.
Amazon Drive customers have until December 31, 2023 to save their stored files; as of January 1, 2023, file uploading will cease to work. Photos and videos will be transferred to Amazon Photos automatically, but other file types must be downloaded manually from the Amazon Drive web dashboard.
Users who currently subscribe to paid Amazon Drive plans can cancel their subscriptions now for a potential refund. Cancellation can be done on the web or through the Android and iOS apps — at least before the apps are removed from the Google Play and App Store, respectively, on October 31.
Amazon launched Amazon Drive as Amazon Cloud Drive in 2011, initially offering pay-as-you-need tiered storage plans both for Amazon Prime and non-Prime users. November 2014 saw the rollout of an API that allowed third-party developers to integrate Amazon Drive into their own apps to save things like game settings, preferences and other app state data in the cloud.
Unlimited plans for Amazon Drive were introduced in 2015, and then discontinued two years later. Storage became limited to 5 GB for non-photo uploads a short time afterward. Amazon Prime members and Fire Tablet owners, however. retained free unlimited photo storage.
Competition was likely a factor in Amazon Drive’s demise. After all, countless providers offer cheap cloud file storage these days, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and OneDrive. Amazon Drive’s pricing wasn’t even particularly competitive — the service charged $119 a year for 2 TB, the going rate for the same volume of storage at Dropbox and Google Drive.
According to Statista, Google Drive was the most popular cloud storage service as of September 2021, followed by iCloud and OneDrive.
Amazon shuts down its personal file storage service to focus on photos

Google delays move away from cookies in Chrome to 2024

Google is again delaying plans to phase out Chrome’s use of third-party cookies — the files websites use to remember preferences and track online activity. In a blog post, Anthony Chavez, Google’s VP of Privacy Sandbox, said that the company is now targeting the “second half of 2024” as the timeframe for adopting an alternative technology.
It’ll be a long time coming. Last June, Google said it would depreciate cookies in the second half of 2023. Before then, in January 2020, the company pledged to make the switch by 2022.
“We’ve worked closely to refine our design proposals based on input from developers, publishers, marketers, and regulators via forums,” Chavez wrote. “The most consistent feedback we’ve received is the need for more time to evaluate and test the new … technologies before deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome.”
Google’s efforts to move away from cookies date back to 2019, when the company announced a long-term roadmap to adopt ostensibly more private ways of tracking web users. The linchpin is Privacy Sandbox, which aims to create web standards that power advertising without the use of so-called “tracking” cookies. Tracking cookies, used to personalize ads, can capture a person’s web history and remain active for years without their knowledge.
Privacy Sandbox proposes using an in-browser algorithm, Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), to analyze a users’ activity and generate a “privacy-preserving” ID that can be used by advertisers for targeting. Google claims that FLoC is more anonymous than cookies, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation has described it as “the opposite of privacy-preserving technology” and akin to a “behavioral credit score.”
Privacy Sandbox has also prompted regulators to investigate whether Google’s adtech aims are anticompetitive. In January 2021, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the U.K. announced plans to focus on Privacy Sandbox’s potential impacts on both publishers and users. And in March, 15 attorneys general of U.S. states and Puerto Rico amended an antitrust complaint filed the previous December saying that the changes in the Privacy Sandbox would require advertisers to use Google as a middleman in order to advertise.
Google earlier this year reached an agreement with the CMA on how it develops and releases Privacy Sandbox in Chrome, which will include working with the CMA to “resolve concerns” and consulting and updating the CMA and the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office on an ongoing basis.
In the meantime, Chavez says that Google will expand a trial of its Privacy Sandbox technologies to “millions” of Chrome users beginning in August. It’ll then gradually increase the trial population throughout the year into 2023, offering an opt-out option to users who don’t wish to participate.
Google now expects Privacy Sandbox APIs to be launched and generally available in Chrome by the third quarter of 2023.
“Improving people’s privacy, while giving businesses the tools they need to succeed online, is vital to the future of the open web,” Chavez wrote. “As the web community tests these APIs, we’ll continue to listen and respond to feedback.”
Google delays move away from cookies in Chrome to 2024

Kids and teens now spend more time watching TikTok than YouTube, new data shows

Kids and teens are now spending more time watching videos on TikTok than on YouTube.
In fact, that’s been the case since June 2020 — the month when TikTok began to outrank YouTube in terms of the average minutes per day people ages 4 through 18 spent accessing these two competitive video platforms. That month, TikTok overtook YouTube for the first time, as this younger demographic began averaging 82 minutes per day on TikTok versus an average of 75 minutes per day on YouTube.
In the years since, TikTok has continued to dominate with younger users. By the end of 2021, kids and teens were watching an average of 91 minutes of TikTok per day compared with just 56 minutes per day spent watching YouTube, on a global basis.
This new data is based on kids’ and teens’ use of TikTok and YouTube across platforms, which was compiled for TechCrunch by parental control software maker Qustodio using an analysis of 400,000 families who have accounts with its service for parental monitoring. The data represents their real-world usage of apps and websites, not an estimate.
And to be clear, these figures are averages. That means kids aren’t necessarily sitting down to watch an hour and a half of TikTok and an hour of YouTube every day. Instead, the data shows how viewing trends have changed over time, where some days kids will watch more online video than others, and will switch between their favorite apps.
However, the broader picture this data paints is one where the world’s largest video platform may be losing its grip on the next generation of web users — specifically, Gen Z and Gen Alpha. Gen Z is typically thought to include people born between the mid- to late-1990s and the 2010s. Meanwhile, Gen Alpha — a generation whose childhood was put on pause by Covid, then driven online — includes those born after the early to mid-2010s.
In a prior annual report, Qustodio had analyzed kids’ app usage and found that TikTok was nearing YouTube in terms of average time spent. However, that report examined the data in a somewhat clunky fashion. It had included early 2020 app usage in a report largely focused on 2019 trends — a decision the firm had made at the time in order to highlight the increased connectivity taking place at the beginning of the pandemic. The report also focused on a handful of top markets, rather than global trends.

Kids now spend nearly as much time watching TikTok as YouTube in US, UK and Spain

The new data, compiled upon TechCrunch’s request, has been cleaned up to provide a clearer picture of the year-over-year shift in video viewing trends among the web’s youngest users.
According to the firm’s findings, YouTube was still ahead in 2019 as kids and teens were spending an average of 48 minutes on the platform on a global basis, compared with 38 minutes on TikTok. But with the shift in usage that took place in June 2020, TikTok came out on top for 2020 as a whole, with an average of 75 minutes per day, compared with 64 minutes for YouTube.
This past year, the averages grew even further apart. In 2021, this younger demographic spent an average of 91 minutes per day on TikTok versus just 56 minutes on YouTube.
Image Credits: Qustodio data
Image Credits: Qustodio data
The firm also broke out metrics for leading countries like the U.S., the U.K. and Spain, which demonstrate an even more incredible shift on a regional basis, compared with the global trends. For example, U.S. kids and teens last year spent an average of 99 minutes per day on TikTok versus 61 minutes on YouTube. In the U.K., TikTok usage was up to a whopping 102 minutes per day, versus just 53 minutes on YouTube. These figures include both website and app usage, we should note.
YouTube, no doubt, is well aware of this shift in consumer behavior as are all other social app makers, including Meta and Snap. That’s why YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat have all now copied TikTok’s short-form vertical video feed with their own products.
In YouTube’s case, that’s YouTube Shorts, a short video platform the company believes will prove to be a discovery engine that will drive users to its long-form product. The company recently touted that YouTube Shorts had topped 1.5 billion logged-in monthly users, and suggested that channels producing videos of different lengths were seeing gains in watch time. It didn’t, however, share any specific figures on that front.
YouTube’s first-party data, of course, takes into account a broader global audience — not just kids and teens. And it includes cross-platform usage on phones, tablets, the web, smart TVs, game consoles, connected devices and more.
But despite Shorts’ growing adoption per YouTube’s data, Qustodio’s research seems to indicate younger people have simply been opting for the short-form content provided by TikTok. At the same time, TikTok has been slowly pushing its user base to consume longer videos. This year, for instance, TikTok expanded the max video length to 10 minutes, up from its earlier expansion to 3 minutes. And while most TikTok videos are not multiple minutes long, the “optimal” video length for a TikTok video has been growing.
In 2020, TikTok told creators that 11 to 17 seconds was the sweet spot to find traction. In November 2021, it amended that to 21 to 34 seconds.
Over time, this could also help to drive up the average watch time on TikTok as well.
Qustodio’s larger annual report on digital trends indicates YouTube isn’t the only app to feel the impact of TikTok’s rise and the unique interests of Gens Z and Alpha. Young people use a different mix of apps than the generations before — like Roblox, for instance, which has been used by 56% of kids, or Snapchat, used by 82%. On average, they are totaling 4 hours of screen time per day, which includes educational apps.
The good news for YouTube, however, is that it’s still ahead of other video streaming services in terms of time spent.
Globally, kids spent 56 minutes per day on YouTube last year, ahead of Disney+ (47 min), Netflix (45 min), Amazon Prime (40 min), Hulu (38 min) and Twitch (20 min)
Kids and teens now spend more time watching TikTok than YouTube, new data shows

This Week in Apps: Google battles KakaoTalk, Twitter deal in jeopardy, FTC asked to investigate TikTok

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the weekly TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications and the overall app economy.
The app industry continues to grow, with a record number of downloads and consumer spending across both the iOS and Google Play stores combined in 2021, according to the latest year-end reports. App Annie says global spending across iOS and Google Play is up to $135 billion in 2021, and that figure will likely be higher when its annual report, including third-party app stores in China, is released next year. Consumers also downloaded 10 billion more apps this year than in 2020, reaching nearly 140 billion in new installs, it found.
Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re also a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus. In 2020, investors poured $73 billion in capital into mobile companies — a figure that was up 27% year-over-year.
This Week in Apps offers a way to keep up with this fast-moving industry in one place with the latest from the world of apps, including news, updates, startup fundings, mergers and acquisitions, and much more.
Do you want This Week in Apps in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here: techcrunch.com/newsletters
Top Stories
Elon says he’s killing the Twitter deal
The bird app buyout could be off, if Elon Musk has his way.
On Friday, Musk’s legal team informed Twitter the Tesla and SpaceX exec would be terminating the merger agreement because, as their letter alleges, Twitter made false and misleading claims about the health of its business. This, of course, refers to the drama Musk had been stirring up over the percentage of bots on the service, which Twitter says is estimated to be less than 5%. Upon Musk’s earlier pressing for more information on this figure, Twitter provided Musk’s team with API access to make their own determinations. The letter, however, states that this API access was capped and limited, preventing the team from being able to accurately analyze Twitter’s data with regard to bots. (Which makes Musk’s claims that the bot count is higher than Twitter said it was a bit hard to prove!) Musk’s lawyers also allege Twitter included known fake and bot accounts in its mDAUs and didn’t have a standard process for calculating its mDAUs or the percentage of bots. Even if the arguments were valid — and that’s not able to be determined at this time — they don’t allow Musk to simply walk away.
Musk has already legally agreed to this deal, which means the battle will now move to court where Twitter says it plans to enforce the agreement at the price and terms agreed upon. And even if both parties agree to terminate, Musk will have to pay out a billion dollars as a termination fee.
The real reason Musk is trying to terminate is not likely “bots.” It’s because he knows he overpaid. What looked like a decent deal earlier (@ $54.20 per share) quickly became an overpriced deal in a macroeconomic environment that’s led to tech stocks tanking. Since announcing the deal, Twitter’s stock hadn’t again hit the negotiated price, and in fact, was recently down as much as 28% below Musk’s offer price. By forcing the deal to go to the courts, Musk could be hoping for a shot at negotiating a better price. But that’s far from being a certain outcome.

The Twitter Board is committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk and plans to pursue legal action to enforce the merger agreement. We are confident we will prevail in the Delaware Court of Chancery.
— Bret Taylor (@btaylor) July 8, 2022

Google blocked KakaoTalk for not following its rules
Image Credits: Jon Russell (opens in a new window) / Flickr (opens in a new window)
Google this week demonstrated it plans to enforce its new Play Store terms over in-app purchases, even if the developer is a $1.5 billion tech giant and leading app in its region. The Korean company behind the KakaoTalk mobile messenger popular in South Korea was prevented from issuing updates to its app over its failure to comply with Google Play’s terms, according to local media reports. This would be the first time Google has enforced its new Play Store rules over how apps can point users to their own websites for alternative methods of payments.
South Korea’s in-app payment law, better known as the “anti-Google law,” permits Android app developers to add third-party payment options in their app, but only if they offer them alongside Google’s own billing system. It doesn’t permit developers to add links to their app that allow users to bypass Google’s billing system entirely, however. That’s what KakaoTalk is continuing to do.
According to Google’s rules, failure to comply with its rules could see apps removed from the Play Store altogether. Google hasn’t gone that far just yet — instead, it’s only blocked the company from issuing updates. But this is still a serious punitive action and one designed to prompt the app to take action.
Companies aren’t happy with how Google complied with the country’s new law, as Google is only offering a discount on commissions paid for those using third-party payments, instead of allowing them to avoid commissions as they had hoped. On April 1, Google said all apps must either use Google’s own payments system and pay the usual 15-30% in commissions, or the apps could offer a third-party system for a discount of 4% on those fees.
The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) met with Google and Kakao on Thursday about the matter. Afterward, Kakao relented and chose to remove the web link to the third-party payments system as required by Google’s rules to come into compliance. Analysts speculated Kakao’s earlier refusal to remove the link was to simply bring the issue to regulators’ attention — that is, it aimed to demonstrate how Google had complied with the letter of the law, but not with the spirit. The KCC had been investigating how the law was being implemented but since most apps were already in compliance, Google hadn’t yet taken any punitive actions.
The Kakao Talk messaging app today is used by some 53 milllion+ people monthly, making it one of the biggest social apps in the country.
FTC asked to investigate TikTok
Image Credits: TikTok
Senate Intelligence Committee members have asked the FTC to investigate whether TikTok misled lawmakers about ByteDance employees’ ability to access U.S. users’ data. Democrat Senator Mark Warner and Republican Marco Rubio, the chair and ranking member of the committee, respectively, wrote a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan requesting a further investigation into whether TikTok may have lied in its testimonies to Congress over how it handles user data.
This demand follows a BuzzFeed News report that revealed that ByteDance employees in China were regularly accessing U.S. data into early 2022, despite TikTok’s prior assurances to the contrary. Last weekend, timed alongside the BuzzFeed scoop, TikTok wrote to Republican Senators to assure them it’s working on a program called “Project Texas” aimed at improving data security for U.S.-based users.
“In light of this new report,” the letter stated, “we ask that your agency immediately initiate a Section 5 investigation on the basis of apparent deception by TikTok, and coordinate this work with any national security or counter-intelligence investigation that may be initiated by the U.S. Department of Justice.”
Pressure on TikTok has been increasing as of late. Six senators sent a letter to the Treasury Department on June 24, asking for details about the negotiation between TikTok and CFIUS, which would have prompted Trump’s EO to ban the TikTok app in the U.S. An FCC Commissioner, Brendan Carr, also wrote to Apple and Google on June 28, requesting the companies remove TikTok from their app stores for “its pattern of surreptitious data practices.”
Weekly News
Platforms: Apple
Image Credits: Apple
Apple introduced an iPhone Lockdown Mode in iOS 16. The new OS, as well as updates for iPad and Mac, will include a feature that lets users who are most at risk from attacks take more extreme measures to lock down their devices and reduce attack surfaces. In Lockdown Mode, most message attachments are blocked and previews are disabled; some web technologies are disabled; FaceTime calls from people you haven’t connected with before are blocked; Shared Albums are removed from the Photos app; configuration profiles can’t be installed; wired connections to other devices or accessories are blocked; and more. Apple said it will add more protections to this mode over time.
Apple rolled out the third developer betas for iOS 16, iPadOS 16, tvOS 16, watchOS 9 and macOS 13 Ventura. The news suggests the iOS 16 public beta is just around the corner, given it usually arrives alongside the third developer betas. The third beta also includes support for iCloud‌ Shared Photo Library, which lets families combine their photos and videos in one place.
Apple also released iOS 15.6 and iPadOS 15.6 beta 5 to developers, alongside other platforms.
Platforms: Google
The Google Play Store appears to be getting an updated logo with rounded corners on the triangle and colors that are more aligned with Google’s four colors (blue, green, yellow and red), instead of lighter variations.
E-commerce & Food Delivery
Code spotted in the iOS 16 beta 3 suggests Apple is working on a new system to integrate virtual cards with Safari, reports 9to5Mac. The feature would allow users to pay with virtual card numbers when online shopping in mobile Safari.
Amazon partnered with Grubhub and took a stake in its owner, Just East Takeaway. The deal will see Amazon offering free membership to Grubhub+ for one year to Prime members in the U.S. The retailer had previously offered a similar deal to Amazon Prime Student members and had a partnership with Deliveroo in the U.K. that offered a free year of Deliveroo+ to Prime members.
Walmart folded its InHome grocery delivery service into its subscription plan, Walmart+. The service lets users monitor in-home grocery deliveries via an app where they can livestream the delivery as it’s in progress, watching as Walmart staff places their items inside their fridge and freezer.
Pinterest introduced an API for Shopping and Product Tagging for Pins, among other merchant-focused updates. The API offers access to new catalog management and product metadata features, while Product Tagging allows merchants to make their “lifestyle” Pins shoppable, similar to shoppable photos on Instagram. In addition, video assets can now be used in product catalogs, and a new Shop Tab on business profiles lets merchants easily display their shoppable products.
Image Credits: Pinterest
Pinterest also launched its ads business in Argentina, Colombia and Chile, joining other expansions to Brazil and Mexico last year, and Japan’s launch earlier this year. The ads allow retailers to connect with users searching for items that match those in their own catalogs, even if the searchers haven’t settled on a particular brand.
Ex-employees at shopping app Wish detailed to The NYT about the app’s low product standards, unreliable shipping, counterfeiting, inappropriate ads and deceptive experiments which drove users away. The app saw MAUs drop from 101 million in Q1 2021 to 27 million in Q1 2022.
Amazon readies itself for Prime Day with help from online influencers. The company is livestreaming creators who are promoting Prime Day deals via its Amazon Live platform. The streams are available on Amazon’s website and in its mobile app.
Instacart rolled out a new rewards program for shoppers which offers priority access to batches for those with higher ratings. Other perks include discounted childcare, cash back on gas and car maintenance discounts. The company recently introduced other shopper features to protect their tips and remove ratings from customers who always dole out less than five stars.
TikTok dropped its plans to expand livestream shopping in the U.S. and elsewhere after the feature failed to gain traction outside of the U.K., FT said.
Augmented Reality
Image Credits: The Met/8th Wall
The Met launched a new AR experience that allows visitors or anyone to view the Sphinx in augmented reality. The Sphinx appears in your own space atop a grave stele and is annotated with interesting facts users can tap on to learn more. There’s also a selfie feature that lets users try on the Sphinx’s colors. The AR features are powered by 8th Wall and work in the Safari web browser app, instead of requiring a dedicated mobile app.
Image Credits: Reddit
Reddit launched a new NFT-based avatar marketplace that allows users to purchase blockchain-based profile pictures at a fixed rate. Users don’t need to have a crypto wallet to make the purchases, only a credit or debit card. The purchases are then held in Reddit’s own wallet called Vault, inside its existing mobile app. Vault is also used to earn blockchain-based community points and spend them on special features like badges and animated emoji. There are 90 NFT designs available at launch, and a total of “tens of thousands” of NFTs will be available during early access at prices ranging from $9.99-$99.99. The company partnered with Polygon, an Ethereum-compatible blockchain, to mint the avatars on-chain.

Reddit is launching a new NFT avatar marketplace

Crypto exchange Binance.US hired a former Acorns and PayPal exec Jasmine Lee as its CFO, replacing interim CFO Eric Segal. The company offers one of the top crypto apps in the U.S. and operates as a separate entity from the global Binance exchange.
The Chinese photo-editing app Meitu reported a $45.6 million crypto impairment in H1 2022. The company’s stock dropped more than 10% after it projected crypto impairments tripling from 2021 levels.
Glace, owned by adtech firm InMobi Group, will partner with U.S. carriers to launch a media service for Android lock screens. Glance serves media, news and casual entertainment to lock screens and already has a presence on around 400 million devices in Asian markets.
Snap’s unexpected new hire comes from the Secret Service. According to The Washington Post, Secret Service Director James Murray is retiring from his post and joining Snap as its chief security officer at the end of the month, where he’ll directly report to CEO Evan Spiegel.
TikTok is facing multiple lawsuits from parents who allege their children died attempting the “blackout challenge” they saw on the app. The challenge encouraged users to strangulate themselves until passing out. TikTok claims users learned about the challenge on other platforms and says it was never a TikTok trend.
TikTok is testing a new ability that would allow livestreamers to restrict their stream to viewers who are 18+. The company said it’s testing this feature with select users by offering an option to toggle a “mature themes” button that would restrict their TikTok LIVE’s to adults only.
Meta is moving forward with its digital collectibles plan that will allow creators to generate revenue from NFTs, despite the crypto crash, reports FT.
Twitter begins testing “CoTweets,” a feature that allows two users to co-author tweets — a feature that makes it possible for influencers and brands to post tweets together for brand partnership deals, among other use cases.
Elon Musk may be still trying to get out of the Twitter deal, The Washington Post claims (see above). The Telsa and SpaceX exec is reportedly concerned about the number of bots on the service, but he’s likely more worried now about how much he’s overpaid for the social media company. Nevertheless, the ink is dry on the deal and will cost Musk $1 billion if he backs out. Twitter, meanwhile, told reporters it removes 1 million+ spam accounts per day and those accounts are well less than 5% of total users. It also confirmed layoffs of 30% of its talent acquisition team.
An Israel-based startup called Notch is offering creators “Instagram account insurance,” which will pay out a stipend if their accounts get hacked causing them to lose access. The startup will also help them regain control of their page, it says.
Tinder rolled out several in-app initiatives in the U.S. that allow users to take a stand against the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Users can now include “Pro-Choice” as an interest on their profiles, and the app features an in-app promotion that supports the abortion rights campaign from Bansoff.org. The company is also donating in-app promotional space to Kansas Constitutional Freedom (KCF), a bipartisan coalition of reproductive rights advocates and allied organizations dedicated to protecting access to safe and legal abortions. The court’s decision could have an impact on the use of dating apps for casual dating in the U.S., which could impact Tinder’s business.
Messaging app Signal introduced a new thread view on Android, which allows users to see replies to messages bundled in a single place, similar to Slack.

Planning your pizza order for movie night but forgot how many people want pepperoni versus veggie? If you’re using Android, you can now tap the speech bubble icon next to a message to pull up all replies to that message and never lose the thread (or under-order on toppings)! pic.twitter.com/fx3ESyNm6b
— Signal (@signalapp) July 7, 2022

Streaming & Entertainment
Netflix rolled out support for spatial audio to all devices and subscribers to offer theater-like sound for its movies and shows. The support is currently available on original titles like the fourth season of “Stranger Things,” “The Adam Project,” “Red Notice,” “The Witcher,” “Locke & Key” and others. Users can find supported titles by typing in “Spatial Audio” in the search bar.
Code found in Meta’s iPhone app for VR headsets suggests the company’s “Project Cambria” VR headset is going to be called the Meta Quest Pro, which will cost over $1,000, per Bloomberg. Mark Zuckerberg had previously teased the high-end headset in a demo video.
In an update to The Oregon Trail game on Apple Arcade, creator Gameloft added a new “Walk the Trail” feature that connects the game with Apple Health. As users walk throughout the day, their steps are counted in a virtual Oregon trail inside the app that crosses 64 locations like Fort Kearney, Fort Laramie, Fort Hall and others. A stats screen highlights the steps, locations visited and more and a trivia screen offers details about the milestones you pay.
Apple is rolling out its improved Maps to France, Monaco and New Zealand, following tests. The regions will gain updated, more detailed maps, better navigation and other features.
Government & Policy
Twitter sued the Indian government to challenge some of its takedown orders. The government has asked Twitter to remove hundreds of accounts and tweets that had denounced government policies and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Twitter had only partially complied with the requests and is instead fighting back against many of the challenges.
In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. House Oversight Committee issued letters on Friday to data brokers SafeGraph, Babel Street, Digital Envoy, Placer.ai and Gravy Analytics, as well as period tracking app makers Flo Health, Glow, GP International, Clue developer BioWink and Digitalchemy Ventures. The committee is asking the companies about their data collection and retention practices, noting that the collection of sensitive data could “pose serious threats to those seeking reproductive care as well as to providers of such care, not only by facilitating intrusive government surveillance, but also by putting people at risk of harassment, intimidation, and even violence.”

Congress probes period tracking apps and data brokers over abortion privacy concerns

Security & Privacy
Related to its introduction of Lockdown Mode in iOS 16, Apple also established a new category within the Apple Security Bounty program to reward researchers who find Lockdown Mode bypasses and help improve its protections. Bounties are doubled for qualifying findings in Lockdown Mode, up to a maximum of $2,000,000 — the highest maximum bounty payout in the industry. The company said it’s also making a $10 million grant, in addition to any damages awarded from its lawsuit filed against NSO Group, to support organizations that “investigate, expose, and prevent highly targeted cyberattacks, including those created by private companies developing state-sponsored mercenary spyware.”

Apple says Lockdown Mode in iOS 16 will help block government spyware attacks

Funding and M&A
Mobile marketing firm Moburst acquired digital studio Layer, which offers web, mobile and app development services. Layer, launched in 2015, has worked with clients like Nissan, Renault and others. Deal terms weren’t disclosed. The two companies had previously worked together on multiple projects and will now allow Moburst to expand its services and offer a full-stack solution.
Digital banking app YAP, based in the United Arab Emirates, raised $41 million as part of a Series A round expected to close at year-end. The company aims to expand its services into Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan and Ghana.

Has anyone else noticed this in iOS 16 Beta 3? pic.twitter.com/ywiC0MsfJr
— Jack Roberts (@jacklroberts) July 6, 2022

Autocorrect comes for everyone sooner or later… pic.twitter.com/T3RsYJoGo7
— Steve Riggins (@steveriggins) July 8, 2022

I worked on iOS 7, and I can tell you for sure that none of the push toward flatness was about making things better for people. Banishing skeuomorphism was all about how the software looked, not how it worked. https://t.co/51XvDYTVHV
— Ken Kocienda (@kocienda) July 7, 2022

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