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Read this: Our love-hate relationship with the tech giants

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Our love-hate relationship with the tech…



BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio for the biggest beast in tech this week apple Facebook and tiktok have all had their share of bad publicity this summer apple and Facebook recording to appear before Congress when they were told they had too much power and killing the US economy tiktok become embroiled in a US China trade war that's been accused by Donald Trump of being a national Security risk because it's linked to China which tiktok strong is noise of course.

That's the bad stuff, but why then 200000000 sometimes billions of Us use these digital companies everyday, is it there so dominant we can't live without them, or is it they just very good at what they do Edwards is a star on tiktok where she's known as laurbubble and has a massive 1.1 million followers.

Lol how many hours a day.

Do you spend on social media?

That's a good question probably quite a lot actually or half the day is that we've also got Nikita is a research associate at the Oxford internet Institute before that she was a lawyer for the international monetary fund that has worked on sovereign debt restructuring Nikita here's a question which is bigger and more complicated sovereign debt fund or a tech Titan like Facebook increasingly the big going to be posing as a bigger problem is that of sovereign debt crises the past and we also have Richard Waterworth that he might have the answer this of course is the general manager for tiktok in Europe has previously worked for Google and YouTube as well.

What's the best video that you've seen on your platform this week?

Oh, I saw a wonderful cooking video brilliantly named account called men with the pot and they use an open fire to cook using very rustic ingredients are absolutely beautiful and it's great inspiration for the cooker is well editing an entire cogenhoe recipe for difficult Oliver Baker who's co-founder of intelivita and app development company in Bradford Oliver what's your favourite mobile game at the moment the car racing game it's it's not one.

That's quite a while.

I recently had the birth of my daughter.

Who's 3 months old now, but who is senior tech editor for Business Insider Shona

Spell the most interesting smaller tech company that you've come across recently.

There's a British gaming company who are created very popular game.

It's really exploded over last week or so, I think Calls full guys huge exactly they've just come out of nowhere.

You know the British company behind hurts and it's because we don't have a huge British gaming company here currently and these guys could be could be the next big thing for us.

I did know for guys with British that's good to know that start then won the most popular social media platforms in the world one which we hear about a lot of without ever actually hearing from the company itself Richard Waterworth is a general manager of tiktok you at ease with us in the past years also almost nobody has managed to break through and join the social media mainstream alongside the likes of Facebook Instagram YouTube and Twitter but you have what makes tiktok stand out from.

Wannabe platforms out there

well, thanks.

Thanks for having me on and I think what it is that makes.

It is that we have and have always had a very very distinctive purpose as a product and that service is that we're all about making and creating a safe space for users to express themselves in a positive and really really creative way and that's that sounds you know Babs like it's not so different actually I think there's some really really important differences so in order to do that you have to make it easy and fun for people to make the tools that you can use in tiktok to turn a video into a tiktok with music and transitions.

They're really really easy to use and really fun and there was a video on tiktok that video before you feed is the main see the videos video can go viral on tiktok without having a single follower for the

David works according to what you like a not who you like or you know there's just a very key things that a different about the way tiktok operates and all of it comes together.

We Focus everyday.

I'm bringing people together bringing Communities Together and making sure that it's an experience and that really transcends age age Generations and Culture so all of that comes together.

We think coming from that very distinctive purpose to get to make TiK ToK a really unique experience was in quite hell mama that success tiktok has been you a private company.

I'm pretty sure that you're not gonna give you the answer to this but I'm going to ask you anyway, how many uses do you know have globally well as you say we're private company so we don't disclose your numbers, but you know we are very very proud that millions and hundreds of millions of people around the world are unleashing their creativity on tiktok.

Expressing themselves and bringing joy to each other so so we really really proud of the of the scale that we've been able to get to know you will not I've recently and I know that you're Preston was sent me to some switch.

You're not entirely.

I'm happy with that say about 800 million downloads, so that gives you a rough idea, but we can also get the size of the company by looking about how much international attention top gets we've covered a lot of stories about already on the media show about tiktok.

We don't run over them into much detail because we're not here for that today, but Shauna can you give us a quick summary of the big controversies that a platform so obviously text off is known for being very popular with young people and last year that was some concern reported out by the Guardian about the way tiktok was moderating or actually failing to moderate content that might be categorised as child abuse in a dream.

You know it was perceived that tiktok was taking the riskier roots and then take toxins after that store.

Revised around the same sort of time there was another related controversy again around a report by The Guardian that tiktok moderators had been instructed to answer videos about topics that my anger China's ruling Communist Party so topics around Tiananmen Square other hot bath and political issues again TiK ToK says no replies, but still it's with laughter nasty taste in the mouth and finally obviously the current major controversy is the accusation from Donald Trump administration that took spiders on people that hoovers up an unusual amount of personal data and it said that dated back to China important to say texts are obviously felt like different true and there hasn't been empirical proof that happens.

That's that's a claim.

That's being made.

So that's all the political sparring happening around the company and Richard but if we don't speak up itself.

It's not a political place at all.

Is it understands example band?

Adse clearly a big part of your platform is about keeping it light.

How do you do that?

Yeah, what has he said in a political ads not allowed on tiktok and and and always had this is very clear and distinct purpose to make a safe space the positive expression and so are the ways that we did have explained you know some of the ways that we do that which involve making it easy for people to create content and when you do that you significantly broaden the access and the pool of people who are creating interesting content that makes it ok very very inclusive place where people can can go viral and achieve great distribution without having built up a huge following and so there a few of those Dynamics that really do you know a place where creativity? Is is the sort of a word and that is what they wouldn't some pics of the therefore.

That's what they enjoy that's how you know that's because

Surprising, how do you make things go viral Dan how does your algorithm work as a lot of humans looking over the videos and saying all this is just a sort of message that we want to send let's promote that one had it all work.

No so it says so therefore you feed in the algorithm looks at signals to determine whether a video is likely to be enjoyed by some music to the great thing about the for you feed as there's no one for you for you every every Musa gets an individual experience which is based on the things that they had liked and enjoyed and shared in the so so so that for you feeding the algorithm.

You know it looks all of the signals that are watching and uses those signals to recommend that patients.

It's not based on as a video when it's posted have a certain number of followers, so so that's that.

Really important thing to understand is that we have a part of vehicle the discover page and if you go into the app you will see a number of what we call the challenges and so they are things that are created by a community and sometimes by us to get people creating around the certain theme or some challenge and be able to talk a lot more about that.

I'm sure but that doesn't mean that people are constantly riffing off each other around the same thing and you know what happens.

There.

Is that you get into the thing that many many variations on a theme was just increases the level of creativity creativity works when people get to Riff Off each other and play on the same thing that you know that's one of the key elements that does make tiktok has created.

Creativity is moving into the charts with singing artist discovered on tiktok songs going to number 1 or having great shots it so what's the interesting so your moderation is is mainly done through computers and a quarter moderation is where you are basically police.

What's on the platform? Is he described it? Yeah, we have we have terms of service and community guidelines.

What is acceptable in terms of contract on the platform and so yeah, we have moderation a very large flat and safety teams and those teams are combination all that that trust and safety and moderation process is a combination of people humans and machines and they work together to identify and if needed Takedown content which is against our terms of power.

How many have you do you think yeah? Yeah that and sort of I've been looking up to get TV presenting gigs on radio keeps saying things like that, so it's a combination of things really crowded market of social media platforms.

What was it that really inspired you to get on tiktok in the first place and musical.ly and it was really just to try out jokes and try at little Skips and then get them on my YouTube if they went down well and it's kind of the following on tiktok, so yeah, that's started a couple of your videos then these are over and flash out there so we can listen carefully, let's let's have a listen.

My favourite day of the year because I get to wake up next to you is so there are lots of Visual things happening in those videos which don't work as well on radio.

How long do the videos take you to make any way you can do it within the hours to a lot longer if you're looking it's a bit more produced by a couple of hours if you've got the idea ready and you say you've built up the bigger following on tiktok, but it is something about the actual platform itself that makes it easier more tempting to be on there then say YouTube which I knew YouTube they they favour longer videos, don't they?

To make short form content because you know people in a slightly longer the time commitment videos and also experience and getting a video seen the age of 16 and 25.

What do you know about your fans? Do you ever get any sun on the demographic? You're talking to and has it changed in the time? You've been there.

I can't find out the ages.

I can roughly get guests from the comments, but I do get sort of Geographic info inside out very young kids TV when I started out so I knew that it was roughly that kind of 12-year old teenage.

I think I've done quite a good job of reaching out to older ages now and I'll Generations I've been on there for about a year and a bit and at first.

I felt very awkward the oldest people on the platform Richard that's on this is the age profile changing.

Yeah, it is again.

You know as it's a private company we don't share a detailed breakdowns, but it is absolutely changing and Laura's right.

You know there.

There's been a lot of work because we want to talk to be a platform for everyone and so one of the things we really really pleased to see particularly in the last 6-months during the lockdown the teacher was just a number of family different generations that were coming together with family groups of all ages coming together and enjoying we had you know we were we were very pleased when they came out and said that I've been a bit of a lifesaver for her during lockdown.

She mostly appears on her grandson's account so the profile is the platform the profile is continuing to grow and anywhere really really pleased to welcome so it's growing a lot of competition.

Isn't that Shauna can you tell us a bit about?

Likes of a trailer and Instagram realise that these are the Venue that starts up then yeah, so has actually been around for some years you ask competitors tiktok that goes on on short form video and it is very focused on on a music bot has really exploded particularly in America over the last month or so because it's some of the issues happening with tiktok.

I think I've managed to poach them high profile tiktok, but I think there's still a question about whether they can replicate the tiktok magic and Donald Trump on apparently.

It's got a verified account.

So you know that he's giving his back, but I think with all these things you mentioned Instagram reels which is instagram's a pretty obvious clone of tiktok that lives in Instagram app and then there is fine switch an interesting one which is again American but was founded by the founders of Vine which is the now Dad short-form video not forgotten.

Twitter but with briefly very popular a few years ago again none of these have the scale will reach your text of course You Anything Could Happen particularly if trump goes ahead and effectively Bans none of them are just worried.

Are you about this competition from Instagram the particular? Cuz I close Instagram is owned by Facebook they got lot of cash.

Yeah, but we welcome any competition and I think we feel extremely confident in what we're doing in what makes us different and unique you now talked about if you make it as easy and fun as we have to Great content if you allow that concept to get distribution and if you build a community that from really really angry Don on creative suffix and we think those are a really really powerful recipe so so we are very confident in being where we are and where we're going money for me, but do you think that you're going to get a golden handshake offer for parts from a trailer on Instagram rules? Would you consider it for now and I'm happy on tiktok? I haven't tried any of the new apps out so I also think you have your content creator gives gives stuff ago try it you know I wouldn't have thought you know 10-years ago on YouTube that I'd be on a short form out.

So I'm not running out for everyone but

Right now original if it is key question you're going to have to put some money behind this to keep your creators happy.

How do you actually fun? I know there's adverts on the app, but are you one of these texts startups? It's worth billions actually making any money so as you say theirs adverts on and so you know TiK ToK commercial business and we are growing and have a big ambitions.

So and any terms of how we fund the creators.

We've actually just announced this week a creator in Europe which is a fans initially of around 56 million pounds in the first year everything I've got to someone other than 2 and 6300 million over 3 years and that is money that we are going to be sharing with creatives in order to reward great teachers for their time and effort because you heard from.

It does take time and effort how to make videos and content on tiktok and so what we doing is with launching this program.

So that the creatures you are producing a value.

They get a shower and so do we really excited? It's a big new stage for us and we're really excited to be able to reward and recognise the work of grated is going to be a rocky road for your head clearly with the what's meaning of Us in this is accusations against you what what is your what is your occupation that you know you are sharing data with the Chinese Communist Party free sample.

Yeah, we understand questions need to be asked to understand that and I think we are we welcome screen pictures being kicked around a bit but we welcome scrutiny and we welcome mate being judged on the fact and the facts are ticks led by an American CEO enjoyed by millions around the world, but nobody has 0 users in China because doesn't operate in China I use a data is stored in the US and also in Singapore and we've and we've got a record and said we've never providing user data to the Chinese government then we and we wouldn't do so if we were asked so there's a load of some of the facts and anything anything reported to the country.

That is just simply not true that keeps coming up in the business and media press.

Are you moving and HQ to London

Well, there's been a lot of speculation about that as a band anything and I know I'm sure you would love to have that we are looking at the possibility and established headquarters around the world global business, but no decision has been made on that so there's nothing to show on that.

I'm afraid I was hoping for a mediashow exclusive, thank you very much Richard Waterworth from tiktok and Laura Edwards I will leave you to go and make your next viral hit no doubt but showing the police stay where you are.

Don't go anywhere because I need your help to navigate the next topic the war between not one but three other tech Giants so yesterday afternoon a video game developer called epic Games filed an injunction against apple.

It's all part of a long-running Rao about the power of not only the Apple apps on the Google Play store to this is a place of course where we all download apps and games from our phones and tablets between them.

There are they used by billions of us and epic got themselves a huge company.

Billion dollar worth example that he claims to have 350 million people playing it's main title which is fortnite Shauna I know you don't play fortnite but can you describe what the game is all about? Yeah, so very briefly.

It's it is obviously a game and it so it's a multiplayer giant getting minute.

It's based on the concept of Battle Royale so many of you will parachute on the island, and you will try and kill each other within the game and the last one standing at the end of this is the winner and that's that's the Mechanic of the game.

It's very simple.

What makes it so popular.

Is is not just the fact that you can get lots of different weapons characters.

There's actually a huge metal variability within the game and there's lots of ingame events take place, but that is the basic mechanic and it is very popular and it's a free but it's those extra add-ons accessories that you buy a few characters.

That's where the millions and millions of Dollars of May so before we drill down into the details of this legal battle Oliver Baker from the app and game maker.

What is your biggest hits on the app store so far so generally apps that are the biggest hit of from those who already well established customers, so we in the Samsung with Google with Microsoft eccetera.

Generally the application application for users of a small doses are generally sometimes to do well sometime before it's a bit different to the old days of getting your game printed onto a disc cartridge.

If you go way back and then you gotta try and a slot on a Shelf in a game shop.

Can you talk through their what's the process like to get your game onto an app store these days OK Google Play for Google

Which required so they can test it just to make sure that the use of the content once you've had that review process you looking generally around 48 hours to give them for 5-days in sometimes it can be on the same day and is that on both upstairs or is it more hard work to get an app on the app on the apple app store vs.

The Google Play Store app store takes epic isn't happy with this.

Is it about how does all work?

So the way this works is the Apple and also Google take a fee for the time being but every time you buy something through an app that you've downloaded on your iPhone and I'm talking about particular types of items.

I'm not talking about side of your groceries through Ocado or items in might buy from Amazon I'm talking about sort of media content so it might stuff that you might buy as he say to help your character in fortnite or it might be an eBook or it might be a subscription to Spotify any digital purchase like that.

You will pay your money over the company and apple will take us up to 30% cuts because this is Apple's primary way of making money from the app store and apples argument would be you know if it wasn't fast Company probably wouldn't be wouldn't be getting that revenue.

They wouldn't have access to all these customers so that's probably how it works and the first companies complain about this.

Is it no there have been some complaints.

Yes, and it will really ask elated.

I would say in 2019 when Spotify made a very similar similar point to epic and said you know we're not happy about the 30% it hurts us because we have to put up our prices for customers in always be able to meet a 30% fee but at the same time you wear a streaming music service and apple has its own streaming music service doesn't have to pay the 30% capacity and Spotify fold antitrust complaint to the EU will be at haven't managed her.

It was it was high-profile time haven't got quite beside of prboom but epics managed since epoch started the fight about a week ago.

I think it was when they they deliberately got myself banned from the app store and the apple app store and Google Play Store adding effects of a workaround in that meant that you didn't have to buy your character accessories through apple you could do it for the room website.

They clearly knew what they were doing.

They are ready to sewer.

A minute to getting banned in the company launched her a strange but very clever video which two player on the book 1980 forecasting apple as the repressive overlords, let's have a listen so that's all so clever play on a very famous apple advert from 1984 from the Super Bowl where they they were the underdogs against IBM stay here for the company doesn't know one estimated figure.

I saw suggested that fortnite on the apple app store alone brings in 500 million every year epic can of shoulder that lost don't know how to how long though because it's game is on lots of different platforms like PlayStation and Xbox but Oliver for other companies smaller companies how important are the app stores for business.

Particularly for Apple it's the only way of getting the Applecross to so if you actually interesting already previously unreleased Android application be already submitted the application as an unregistered unverified application APK and you could download the application go back then to circumvent the 30% commission that Google charging now you can't do that with Apple if you have an apple application if you have the App Store to download 30%

I mean, it's a argument is that they do spend a long time for betting each app to make sure there's no malicious software in each each other people download huge market that you've got access to Bruno cost of your own apart from that cut of all the sales that you make so Shauna and do you think that Apple or Google will everybody on this span can a group of other big-name developers which apparently is trying to join the background.

So if you can get epic Spotify the company behind also complained about the 30% if you can get a bunch of big developers to kind of threaten.

You know the status of the popular apps in the app store that begins to look at little more challenging for Apple Who at the moment.

The balance of power and very much with Apple you know they can say we've got all these are the games you got all these other apps.

We don't need you but actually if you get a bunch of my profile developer saying we're not happy that obviously reliant on having big developers making apps for them.

So I think epic by itself will be will be challenged to to alter the status Quo but I think if you if it manages to get a bunch of guys get political support on side as well in the US is all of appetite for antitrust regulation at the moment politically then, maybe it has a chance of reducing the Carter perhaps interesting times ahead and lots and lots and lots of money at stake here.

Thanks very much for coming on to talk to us Oliver one of the very few Games Makers brave enough to come on and talk to us about all these issues which again shows perhaps the power of these so will move on now to I'll find item which is it leads to this amazing bit of research from Nikita Argyle form University of Oxford and co-author of a study called what is Facebook go?

Ethical and legal considerations for the Demise of big tech obviously we're talking about the the way that big tech is a big part of our lives and some of us are reliant on it including businesses Nikita for Congress is summer as where the CEO of Apple Amazon Google all part of this antitrust hearing which we talked about it's been some discussion us about possibly breaking Facebook up into smaller pieces, but not heard anyone talking about what would actually happen if it closed all together.

What made you think about the Demise of Facebook for your research?

Yeah, so we treat this instead of don't experiment and through that experiment can I try to understand what impact Facebook has done our society we asked the question you know what would happen if Facebook went away and analysis leads to as you see in the paper a kind of picture of this company.

That is so systemically important in our Society whether we want not breaking it up might not be the only thing we can do with it or if at all and instead.

We might need to start thinking of them as more infrastructure for goods public utilities.

They need to be regulated in that.

Do you think they see themselves as that way at the moment or is that a shift at we might see in the future would like to be characterized as systemic import many times talk about how Facebook is essential in connecting the world, but we're not suggesting.

Is that we protect Facebook in its current form.

We actually not suggesting that.

We recognise it's a stomach status and the essentiality we've seen also in the context of developers relying on companies like Apple and Google and we regulating more tightly to reflect be important and critical role.

It plays in society through some of the newsfeed.

What would happen then I can use that news feed is that when you log into Facebook that you can scroll through and all the posts then other items pop-up chronologically or there sorted by your preferences so we focus on different aspects but one of the concerns of data that companies like Facebook but particularly Facebook given its size and reach are holding and we were focusing on what would happen that data if

If he spoke with a shutter newsfeed now, we this is hypothetical obviously for now, but I have been signs that your Facebook could a funeral messaging given the popularity of apps like tiktok and Snapchat and if that was to happen.

Would it just shut it one part like newsfeed and we have questions that such as Facebook wanted to delete some of the data.

If so, how is uses be able to control it do other other existing mechanisms for accessing a data adequacy to give you an example currently you could ask you can ask for your data to be downloaded from Facebook then that's an implementation of data portability rights under the gdpr the recently passed European team but the reality is that you can't really get all your data when you asked you only get data that you uploaded but my data is also embedded in other people's data for a

Photos of the of my friends that are tagging me will not be included in my data downloads is a lot of data that that identifies users that it's hard to obtain a tartar control we have questions about what would happen Saturday till were Facebook decide to shut down for example newsfeed up with the headline suggesting that Facebook was Too Big to Fail but obviously alludes to the the banking crisis.

I know you didn't like the headline.

Did you and why is it important to you? This is not your conclusion to be fair.

It's one way of interpreting and the paper but I think it's important to emphasize that the students didn't and precise one is that that's not the the sole focus of our people we know we also interested in what happens with the data and not just that but all companies franklina digital economy that.

The title and the exuberant around too big maybe and misinterpret if you don't look beyond the headline in the article that ran at the articles.

I have explained it but oftentimes.

It's reactions Focus only on the headline anything that's important to emphasize that Too Big to Fail is a problem statement.

It's not saying that these companies in Facebook 20008 the big banks Too Big to Fail therefore should be protected at all costs what we are saying is that we need to acknowledge the systemic and interconnect scale of these companies and think of ways to mitigate the fall out where the company's to fail is an addition find ways to prevent commerce the bigger and Stafford his consequences of becoming more catastrophic obviously.

The Westin walking around the world pretty you know companies that are caught the infrastructure of the internet.

I would argue that an Amazon are more deeply embedded even though we don't have thoroughly notice in that there.

You know that infrastructure is is heavily relied upon by many other large companies for example Amazon's services are used by many other companies and when Amazon's Cloud service.

It's nothing better than the bus in terms of the paper.

It owns lots of different companies itself.

You know maybe the Core Facebook app is itself not as widely used as it used to be but clearly Facebook is trying to access different market so for example in India it it tried to sort of fillet set off as a gateway a little bit like in the west google is.

How many people gateway to the internet of the primary where you access the internet through Google search engine and Facebook wanted to do something similar work kind of had a portal that was that was free in it.

It meant internet access for poorer Communities and India sort of rebel done through Facebook out and now Facebook trying again through a partnership with a local operator call geo again in Africa it's doing something similar were trying to save itself as the gateway and and yes, I think for those Communities you could argue Facebook disappeared completely.

Yes, you may be reduced access to the internet in the west you know we're pretty relying on WhatsApp there are other messaging services be could use but it would be it would be pretty uncomfortable tomorrow having said that I think there are other companies that that maybe more structure goes to show how powerful all these companies have become I suppose what what goes across all the stories you talked about this week is the way that these companies have built up to be such a high status in our lives an hour.

Relation is only just starting to to potentially catch up with him very sadly.

That is all we have time for this week.

Thank you very much.

I guess then Richard Waterworth tiktok general manager for the UK and Europe Laura Edwards tiktok star Shona Ghosh senior tech editor for Business Insider Oliver Baker co-founder of intelivita and the key to Argyle from the Oxford internet Institute thank you very much and goodbye.


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