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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg To Testify Before a US-Canada ‘Grand Committee”

Joining forces with Canada — and perhaps other countries — seems designed to prod Zuckerberg and persuade him to change his mind.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy. VOA

Parliamentary committees in Britain and Canada on Wednesday urged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before a joint hearing of international lawmakers examining fake news and the internet.

Damian Collins, the head of the U.K. parliament’s media committee, is joining forces with his Canadian counterpart, Bob Zimmer, to pressure Zuckerberg to personally take part in hearings, as he did before the U.S Congress and the European Parliament. The so-called “international grand committee” session would be held Nov. 27 and could include lawmakers from other countries.

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A protester wearing a mask with the face of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is flanked by two fellow activists wearing angry face emoji masks, during a protest against Facebook policies, in London, Britain (From archives) VOA

“We understand that it is not possible to make yourself available to all parliaments. However, we believe that your users in other countries need a line of accountability to your organization — directly, via yourself,” the pair said in a letter to Zuckerberg. “We would have thought that this responsibility is something that you would want to take up.”

Social media companies have been under scrutiny in Britain following allegations that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica used data from tens of millions of Facebook accounts to profile voters and help U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign. The committee is also investigating the impact of fake news distributed via social media sites globally.

Facebook, India, Fake News
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at a Facebook developers conference in San Jose, California. VOA

Collins has been irate with Facebook for sending Zuckerberg’s underlings to his committee’s hearings while the leader of the Silicon Valley company declined invitations to attend. Joining forces with Canada — and perhaps other countries — seems designed to prod Zuckerberg and persuade him to change his mind.

Also Read: Twitter Still Remains A Hotbed For Account Spreading Fake News: Study

“No such joint hearing has ever been held,” the pair wrote. “Given your self-declared objective to ‘fix’ Facebook, and to prevent the platform’s malign use in world affairs and democratic process, we would like to give you the chance to appear at this hearing.” (VOA)

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Facebook has no Choice But to Topple TikTok in India

Unless TikTok is permanently banned in the country over a series of complaints, there seems to be no stopping this Chinese app

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TikTok has over 54 million monthly active users (MAUs) in India. Pixabay

By Nishant Arora

Chasing 15 seconds of fame, millions of Indians are hooked to TikTok and the success of the Chinese short video-sharing app — despite controversies and calls for regulation — has forced major digital giants to incorporate short videos on their own platforms.

TikTok is available in 150 markets, in 75 languages and has more than 700 million monthly active users globally (including over 200 million in India) in just a year compared to 300 million existing Indian users on Facebook.

Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are facing strong competition from TikTok in the country. TikTok owner now plans to invest $1 billion in India despite the calls to ban the app.

According to Meenakshi Tiwari, Forecast Analyst at global market research firm Forrester, while TikTok managed to monetise its offering within one year of its launch through a variety of revenue models like in-app purchase of coins and virtual gifts, advertising accounts for most of its revenue.

Similar to Instagram and Snapchat, TikTok invests heavily in influencer marketing.

“TikTok has launched new advertising formats such as brand takeovers that allow full-screen vertical display, in-feed native video, and hashtag challenge ads, which provide a more immersive and interactive platform to the marketers,” Tiwari told IANS.

One can imagine what Facebook must be thinking: To quickly put a spanner in TikTok’s growth else the India market will slowly ditch its main platform as well as the photo-sharing Instagram.

In November last year, Facebook quietly released a stand-alone app called “Lasso” to compete with TikTok.

On Lasso, which is currently available in the US, users can record themselves dancing and lip-syncing to music, similar to what they can do on TikTok.

“Lasso is a new stand-alone app for short-form, entertaining videos — from comedy to beauty to fitness and more. We’re excited about the potential here, and we’ll be gathering feedback from the people and the creators,” a Facebook spokesperson had told The Verge.

Corporate, America, Climate Change
FILE – In this April 30, 2019, file photo, Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, Facebook’s developer conference in San Jose, Calif. The Boston-based renewable energy developer Longroad Energy announced in May that Facebook is building a… VOA

Facebook last week roped in former Google employee Jason Toff for a key portfolio and the speculation is rife about the social networking giant preparing the global launch of its short video-sharing app.

Toff, who earlier worked for Twitter’s short-video sharing service Vine which has been shut down, has joined as Facebook’s Product Management Director to lead the company’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) team aimed at developing experimental apps for consumers who are still away from the core Facebook brand.

According to Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CyberMedia Research (CMR), the rise of apps like Bytedance’s TikTok demonstrates an underlying consumer fatigue and their urge and need for expressing themselves by experimenting with new apps and platforms.

“By focusing on vernacular languages, TikTok has enabled Indians everywhere to share their talent with the world. With its first-mover advantage, coupled with organically and rapidly growing user base, Bytedance is not shy of battling Facebook’s global dominance,” Ram told IANS.

TikTok is swiftly scaling its ecosystem to ringfence its users with ‘mini programmes’ and, perhaps, a smartphone with pre-installed apps in China.

“For Facebook, it is imperative to thwart TikTok’s rising competition. Unfortunately, its previous attempts at making a TikTok clone have failed. More significantly, Facebook’s reach in India does not extend beyond the tier II and III urban India,” emphasised Ram.

Also Read: Students of IIT Kharagpur Develop AI App to Lend Support for Elderly Care

As pointed out by Facebook Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg in the Q1 2019 earnings call, the meaning of social media is changing in today’s world and there is a move toward more private social media like WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram.

Zuckerberg must not delay further in launching a TikTok rival, “else time may run out for Facebook to have a product that will get India excited,” said Ram.

Unless TikTok is permanently banned in the country over a series of complaints, there seems to be no stopping this Chinese app. (IANS)