1.TIK TOK -Video-sharing platform TikTok may launch a group messaging feature this year, people with knowledge of the discussions told Reuters, putting the Chinese-owned app in more direct competition with social media rivals such as Facebook.
Group messaging is part of owner ByteDance’s plan to develop TikTok into more of a “social interactions app”, one of the sources said. The feature has been part of the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, since 2019.
The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to the media.
A group chat function would help TikTok keep users on the app longer. TikTok, which is particularly popular with teenagers and young adults, has also been expanding its livestreaming and e-commerce offerings and group chats would enable influencers to more easily connect with fans.
TikTok did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
ByteDance had internal discussions last year about introducing the group chat feature but put many updates on hold after the app came under fire from the Trump administration and was banned in India, a second person said.
It is currently evaluating when and where it will launch group chats on TikTok, the sources said.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s new administration has paused a government lawsuit that could have resulted in a de facto ban on the app’s use in the United States and corporate sponsors have raced back to the service.
The White House also said last month it has taken no new “proactive step” related to the Trump administration’s plan for TikTok’s American operations to be acquired by U.S. investors.
The Trump administration had contended that TikTok poses national security concerns as the personal data of U.S. users could be obtained by China’s government. TikTok, which has over 100 million users in the United States, has denied the allegation.
The group chat messaging service is likely to be unencrypted, one of the sources said.
Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert who is on Tiktok’s U.S. advisory council, said he had not been notified about group chats being launched in the United States, but added the platform would need to be ready to deal with dangers that would come with expanding into social messaging.
2.GOOGLE– Four more states have joined a lawsuit filed by Texas and others against Alphabet Inc’s Google that accuses it of breaking antitrust laws to boost its already-dominant advertising business, the Texas attorney general said on Tuesday.
Joining the lawsuit filed in December are Alaska, Florida, Montana, Nevada and Puerto Rico, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. This brings the number of plaintiffs in the lawsuit to 15 states and territories.
The lawsuit was one of three filed last year by the federal government or states against Google.
In announcing Tuesday’s amended complaint, Paxton and the other attorneys general also divulged details about Google’s relationship with Facebook Inc “Our coalition looks forward to holding Google accountable for its illegal conduct and reforming Google’s practices in the future,” Paxton said in a statement. “We are confident Google will be forced to pay for its misconduct through significant financial penalties.”
Google is fighting the allegations, and a hearing scheduled for Thursday is expected to include discussion of the company’s petition for a Texas federal court to move the case to California.
The lawsuit accuses Google of violating the law in how it dominates the steps in the process of placing ads online. It alleges Google quietly teams with its closest online advertising competitor, Facebook, and that it uses the excuse of protecting users’ privacy to act unfairly. Publishers complain that one result has been lower revenues.
The amended complaint states that Facebook and Google “work together to identify users using Apple products,” without elaborating. Apple Inc in recent years on its Safari browser and iPhones has increased ways to block what it views as privacy-intrusive user tracking by ad tech companies, some of which have tried to devise circumvention measures.
Google in statement described the new claim as a “meritless” addition to an “already meritless lawsuit.”
Facebook declined to comment, and Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
The revised complaint also adds that beginning in 2015, Google could view messages from Facebook’s WhatsApp service that users backed up to Google’s Drive cloud storage system.
Google knew users were uninformed about its access, but “did nothing to correct this misunderstanding,” the lawsuit states.
Google Drive gained almost 250 million new users by June 2016 because of the WhatsApp partnership, according to the lawsuit.
3. TWITTER :–Russia will block Twitter in one month unless the U.S. social media giant complies with a demand to remove banned content, Russian news agencies cited a senior regulatory official as saying on Tuesday.
Moscow said last week it had slowed down the speed of Twitter inside Russia in retaliation for what it described as a failure to remove a specific list of banned content.
Twitter said at the time that it was worried about the impact on free speech of the Russian action, and denied that it allowed its platform to be used to promote illegal behaviour as alleged by Russian authorities.
In a move that escalates the growing stand-off, Vadim Subbotin, the deputy head of Roskomnadzor, the communications watchdog, was cited as saying on Tuesday that Twitter had not addressed Russian concerns yet and would be blocked in Russia in a month unless it did so.
“Twitter is not reacting to our requests as they should. If the situation carries on then it will be blocked in a month without a court order,” the Interfax news agency cited Subbotin as saying.
He was quoted as saying that Twitter could still avoid being blocked if it took action to delete the banned content, which Moscow has said includes child pornography and material on illegal drugs and child suicide.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
5.APPLE- Apple Inc said on Wednesday it allotted $2.8 billion raised from “green bonds” that last year funded 17 projects that will generate 1.2 gigawatts of renewable energy.
It said the projects will avoid an average of 921,000 metric tons of carbon emissions each year, which it said is equal to removing nearly 200,000 cars from the road.
Green bonds are a category of fixed-income securities that raise capital for projects with environmental benefits, such as renewable energy or low-carbon transport.
Apple, one of the largest private-sector issuers of such bonds, is using the capital as part of its effort to become carbon neutral across its sprawling manufacturing supply chain by 2030. The company has issued three sets of green bonds since 2016 totaling $4.7 billion.
“We all have a responsibility to do everything we can to fight against the impacts of climate change, and our $4.7 billion investment of the proceeds from our Green Bond sales are an important driver in our efforts,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives said in a statement. “Ultimately, clean power is good business.”
Among Apple’s 2020 green bond projects was what it said was a set of two onshore wind turbines in Denmark that it said are that nation’s largest. The company said the 200-meter tall turbines near Esbjerg will generate 62 gigawatt hours of electricity each year for Apple’s data center in Viborg, with all surplus energy going to the Danish grid.
Apple said other projects last year were a 180-acre solar power site near its data center in Reno, Nevada, that will generate 270 megawatts of power along with its other Nevada projects; a 112-megawatt power purchase agreement with a wind farm near Chicago to offset power consumption in that region; and a 165-megawatt solar power development project with three other companies near Fredericksburg, Virginia.