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TikTok CEO argues U.S. needs the Chinese app to spur social-media competition – The Globe and Mail



The TikTok logo is displayed on an iPhone in Arlington, Va., on April 13, 2020.


U.S. advertisers would be left with few choices and social media competition would dry up without TikTok, Kevin Mayer, the new CEO of the popular short video app that is owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.

Mayer’s comments come as the chief executives of Inc, Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Google owner Alphabet are set to appear before U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday to address concerns they have become too dominant in their markets.

TikTok has not been invited to the hearing, but faces the prospect of U.S. intervention after President Donald Trump and other administration officials said they were considering banning it, amid deteriorating relations between the United States and China.

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A U.S. government panel dubbed the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has raised concerns about the safety of the personal data that TikTok handles under its Chinese owner, Reuters has previously reported.

“We believe it is essential to show users, advertisers, creators, and regulators that we are responsible and committed members of the American community that follows U.S. laws,” Mayer, who stepped down as Walt Disney Co’s top streaming executive earlier this year to join TikTok, wrote in the blog post.

TikTok was allowing experts to observe its moderation policies and examine the code that drives its algorithms, Mayer said. He added that the app was on track to create 10,000 new U.S. jobs.

TikTok has also attracted criticism from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who last year accused the app of censoring political protest. TikTok has denied the claim.

“Let’s focus our energies on fair and open competition in service of our consumers, rather than maligning attacks by our competitor – namely Facebook – disguised as patriotism and designed to put an end to our very presence in the U.S.,” Mayer wrote.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that ByteDance is considering options for TikTok to address U.S. security concerns, including a $50 billion deal that would give ByteDance investors a majority stake in the app.

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Toronto restaurant blasts social media influencer customers for racist remarks – blogTO



Simit & Chai, a restaurant located on King Street West, which famously serves fresh-baked bagels, tea, coffee, and other Turkish delicacies, has taken to social media in the past few days to describe a recent encounter they experienced at their restaurant.

In a series of Instagram posts, Simit & Chai owners Dee and John Ulgen describe the encounter  to their followers.

A duo, who run an instagram account dedicated to food, and who we later found out were professors, came to our shop over the past long weekend. After leaving the shop, they posted a completely false and ill-intended review (now deleted) through their instagram page. They loved the food but clearly had a problem with the owners (who were sitting on the patio the day they came in) and the way their business functioned. Instead of outing their ill intent and responding publicly, we decided to be decent and sent a private message. One point was that we weren’t accessible (which we are, and we have many customers who use wheelchairs), another was that they couldn’t find the sanitizer (which is at the cash register along with free masks for customers) and the worst was that they said they waited more than 30 minutes when in fact they waited only 16 minutes (camera footage). Their response to our message started out extremely condescending and turned racist when they made a comment that “there is clearly a cultural component to how -we- address customers” and that we should learn to follow the rules of this country. They made sure to tell us that these cultural inadequacies were the perfect things to teach to their students who were thinking of opening businesses in Toronto. They went on to try to lecture us that rules were there to protect us (we’ve not had a single problem with any officials in our five years of operation). This didn’t just feel like a patronizing situation, that we’re pros at dealing with, this absolutely felt like a supremacy issue, where this power figure was going to teach these immigrants how things are done here. Today they’re desperately apologizing to us because they tried to overpower us with supremacist rhetoric, they thought we would be scared, we would sit down and listen. Most of you know us personally and know that we won’t take their shit, but shame on us for letting this sort of mentality enter our doors. Shame on George Brown College for employing racists. Is this the kind of morals they’ll be infecting our kids with? We will not let our kids be exposed to this kind of poisonous discourse. This has to end! FUCK RACISM! Dee &John

A post shared by Simit And Chai Company (@simitandchaicompany) on Aug 7, 2020 at 9:09am PDT

They allege that two people who run the food Instagram account TwoPickyFoodies visited Simit & Chai over the August long weekend.

TwoPickyFoodies has been a popular Instagram account with more than 35,000 followers and they have a website as well. Their website, according to John, indicated they provide services for small businesses and review them.

After leaving the restaurant, the TwoPickyFoodies posted what the owners of Simit & Chai say was a “completely false and ill-intended review (now deleted) through their Instagram page.”

They felt the review was unfair and “a bunch of nonsense.”

In the review,  TwoPickyFoodies said they waited for more than half an hour for their food and suggested the restaurant wasn’t very accessible. 

The owners of Simit & Chair explained to blogTO that this is because they moved furniture to the hallway that leads to the washroom to create more room for social distancing.

“Washrooms are not for customers right now. We’re operating like we’re still in Phase 2 or even Phase 1 – we’re just doing takeout so there is no washroom use for customers,” John told blogTO.

TwoPickyFoodies also wrote they were unable to find hand sanitizer but the Simit & Chai owners claim the hand sanitizer is kept at the cash, “like any other takeout place,” located beside the free masks they provide to customers who don’t have them.

In response to the review, the Simit & Chai owners sent TwoPickyFoodies a private message but then were taken aback when the Instagram influencers wrote “clearly there’s a cultural component to how you address client inquiries and complaints.”

“We’ll tolerate any sort of criticisms,” John told blogTO. “That’s how we’ve grown over the last five years but we don’t tolerate racism or looking down upon.”

“What does culture have to do with anything? We told them they are not welcome at our store because of their racist behaviour.”

John and Dee said the pair apologized and told them they are not racist. They added that they wouldn’t come back to the Ulgens’ restaurant.

John says he and Dee did not respond.

Instead, John and Dee posted the whole story from their perspective on the Simit & Chai Instagram and as soon as they posted their statement, the TwoPickyFoodies post and Instagram account was deleted along with their Twitter and website.

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Is the Boss Checking Their Social Media or Watching You Check Yours? – My Cowichan Valley Now



A variety of applications are now available to employers who want to monitor the work habits and efficiency of their staff, how often they are away from their desks, check personal emails, or take a peek at personal social media pages.

At the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC, Commissioner Michael McEvoy says the COVID-19 pandemic has made working from home more widespread, especially in the public sector, and employers may be seeking ways to monitor their staff.

Whether it’s at home or in the office, McEvoy says it’s generally accepted that employees will spend some of their time at work checking on personal matters, and employers must remember there’s an obligation to protect the privacy rights of their workers.

He says employees should be made aware of any monitoring software being used, what information is collected, and why it’s being done.

McEvoy says apps that track every keystroke or record an image of an employee every 30 seconds are not supposed to be used.

He adds that if such software is deemed necessary, there is usually a bigger problem in a workplace, one that should be dealt with through discussion rather than surreptitiously watching employees.

He says there are, of course, exceptions to these rules, such as investigating inappropriate use of company computers or malicious activities.

A UBC study says surveillance technologies designed to help employers monitor staff productivity are largely viewed as “unreasonable and intrusive.”

The researchers found that “devices and software that conduct physical surveillance by recording images, tracking movements and analyzing voices scored the worst, while those focused on digital surveillance such as computer and internet activity scored slightly better, even if they were seen negatively.”

The study looked at public sector use of the technology.

In the public sector, working remotely is now more widespread and public sector managers may be considering the same kind of surveillance found in the private sector.

Software applications are able to photograph employees at random intervals, analyze keywords in email messages to gauge morale, and track internet and computer use.

Study co-author Carey Doberstein says, “There is space for these tools, provided that there’s a clear link to a legitimate objective of an employer.”

Doberstein also says there needs to be “respect for the privacy of employees who as professionals are entitled to a certain amount of trust in the workplace.”

The study finds that the least liked technology includes hidden cameras to watch breaks and movement around the office, a badge that analyzes volume and tone of voice, and tracks movement through the office, random photo capture from a computer.

The least objectionable are wellness apps that monitor physical activity or handwashing practices and internet usage reports on websites visited and time spent.

It may be surprising to learn that the study found younger people under the age of 30 are the ones most likely to have trouble accepting digital surveillance than older workers.

An increasing number of younger staff members may be willing to challenge invasions of privacy by their employers.

Doberstein suggests employers should consider a proactive approach and engage with employees before introducing such technologies to explain why it should be used.

At the Office of the BC Privacy Commissioner, McEvoy says his staff can investigate privacy intrusions in the workplace.

McEvoy says they try to work with both sides to seek a resolution, and employees are protected if they come forward to make a complaint.

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Liberty U's Falwell takes leave after social media uproar – Vancouver Courier



RICHMOND, Va. — Jerry Falwell Jr. took an indefinite leave of absence Friday as the leader of Liberty University, one of the nation’s top evangelical Christian colleges, days after apologizing for a social media post that caused an uproar even among fellow conservatives.

The private university in Lynchburg, Virginia, gave no reason for Falwell’s departure in a one-sentence announcement Friday afternoon. But it came after Falwell’s apology earlier this week for a since-deleted photo he posted online showing him with his pants unzipped, stomach exposed and his arm around a young woman in a similar pose.

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The statement said the executive committee of Liberty’s board of trustees, acting on behalf of the full board, met Friday and requested Falwell take leave as president and chancellor, “to which he has agreed, effective immediately.”

A high-profile supporter of President Donald Trump, Falwell has served since 2007 as president of the university founded by his evangelist father, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.

He did not immediately return a call seeking comment. University spokesman Scott Lamb said he had no further comment.

In an interview this week with Lynchburg radio station WLNI, Falwell said the woman in the photo was his wife’s assistant and that the picture was taken during a “costume party” while on vacation.

“Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht,” the caption of the photo said, in part. “I promise that’s just black water in my glass. It was a prop only.”

He said the woman — who also had her midriff exposed — was pregnant, couldn’t get her pants zipped and he imitated her, saying it was all in “good fun.”

“I’ve apologized to everybody, and I’ve promised my kids … I’m going to try to be a good boy from here on out,” he told the interviewer.

On Thursday, Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, a pastor who previously taught at Liberty, called Falwell’s behaviour “appalling” and said he should resign.

Besides Walker, some pastors who graduated from Liberty spoke out this week calling for a change in leadership at the school. Mark Davis, a Texas-based pastor, tweeted that “the name of Christ and the reputation of Liberty will continue to be dishonoured” without action against Falwell by the board. Colby Garman, a pastor who has served on the executive board of the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia, tweeted Monday that it was “bewildering” to see Falwell maintain the board’s support. He responded to Friday’s news with appreciation.

“How is this Jerry Falwell Jr. photo even real?” tweeted conservative TV personality Meghan McCain, daughter of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain. “Also if you’re running the largest Christian university in America maybe don’t put photos of yourself on social media with your pants undone on a yacht — with random women in bad wigs. So gross, so hypocritical.”

The late Falwell founded Liberty in 1971 with just 154 students. Under the leadership of Falwell Jr., who is an attorney and not a minister, Liberty has grown into a leading evangelical university, with an immaculate campus and a significant endowment. Students must follow a strict code of conduct that includes modest dress and a ban on alcohol consumption.

In recent years, Liberty has served as a regular speaking spot for ambitious Republicans courting the young evangelical vote. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz kicked off a presidential campaign there in 2015.

Falwell was among the earliest Christian conservatives to endorse Trump’s previous election campaign. In late 2016 he told The Associated Press that Trump had offered him the job of education secretary but that he turned it down for personal reasons.

The vacation photo was the most recent in a string of controversies dogging Falwell in recent years, in both his role at Liberty and his personal life.

Last year, he settled a federal lawsuit in Florida over a real estate venture that involved a young Miami pool attendant, a case that drew national attention.

He more recently sparred with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and local officials in Lynchburg over his handling of coronavirus restrictions. He also faced stinging criticism from a group of Black alumni who said in a letter that he should step down after he mocked Virginia’s mask-wearing requirement in a tweet by invoking a blackface scandal that engulfed Northam last year. Several Black Liberty staff members resigned following the tweet, and several high-profile Black student-athletes announced transfer plans.

On Friday, Pastors Chris Williamson, Eric Carroll, and Maina Mwaura, who organized the June letter, issued a statement applauding the board’s decision.

“Liberty University deeply impacted us as students and we hope that its leadership can return to a focus of training ‘young champions for Christ’ with Biblical conviction for the Gospel and justice,” the statement said.


Associated Press writers Alan Suderman and Elana Schor contributed to this report.

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