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FCC Commissioner calls for TikTok ban



FCC Commissioner

FCC Commissioner calls for urgent TikTok ban amid national security risks

FCC Commissioner, Brendan Carr has called for U.S. Council on Foreign Investment in the U.S. to apply pressure Congress to ban TikTok.

It comes amid ongoing concerns of risks to national security and the use (or misuse) of user data.

Concerns surrounding TikTok have continued to grow in line with its rapid adoption rate with the platform downloaded more than 200 million times within the U.S.

Security fears originate from TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, being a Chinese Owned company.

However, TikTok is currently in negotiations to see if can be dismantled by its Chinese company.

They are also suggesting it be transferred to a U.S. company so that it can continue to legally operate throughout the United States.

An agreement has not yet been reached with Department of Justice official Lisa Monaco citing concerns over a strong link to Beijing still inherent in the current deal proposal.

Commissioner Carr stated in relation to TikTok’s bid to continue to operate in the U.S.,

“I don’t believe there is a path forward for anything other than a ban.”

Credit: TelecomTV

TikTok hits back

Now, TikTok has hit back at the claims by commenting,

“Commissioner Carr has no role in the confidential discussions with the U.S. government related to TikTok and appears to be expressing views independent of his role as an FCC commissioner.

We are confident that we are on a path to reaching an agreement with the U.S. Government that will satisfy all reasonable national security concerns.

TikTok has repeatedly denied providing any user data to the Chinese Government claiming data is stored outside of China.

However, recent reports have suggested TikTok employees have accessed personal, non-public available user data.

There are also concerns they’re pushing pro-Beijing messaging to U.S. users.

At this stage it seems TikTok will continue to operate in the United States.

This is despite the ongoing calls for the platform to be banned.

Dr. Karen Sutherland, University of the Sunshine Coast  & Dharana Digital contributed to this report. 

Dr Karen Sutherland is a Senior Lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast where she designs and delivers social media education and research. Dr Sutherland is also the Co-Founder and Social Media Specialist at Dharana Digital marketing agency focused on helping people working in the health and wellness space.

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OpenAI to offer premium ChatGPT service



OpenAI has announced a monthly plan that will give you priority access to the ChatGPT bot

ChatGPT Plus is set to cost $20/month, and allow a user the ability to use the chatbot even during peak times, where free users would have to wait.

The company also says the plan will give you “faster response times” and “priority access to new features and improvements.”

OpenAI will be sending out invitations for the service to people in the U.S. over the next few weeks, before expanding to other regions around the world.

This comes amid the company revealing that a mobile phone version of the chatbot is being developed.

Currently, it is only available as a computer program.

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Meta stocks soar in ‘Year of Efficiency’



Meta Platforms has announced a better-than-expected sales quarter, as well as a USD$40 billion stock buyback.

The parent of Instagram and Facebook cut its cost outlook for 2023 by $5 billion, and projected first-quarter sales that could beat Wall Street estimates.

Meta stock surged nearly 19% in after-hours trade.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg described the focus on efficiency as part of the natural evolution of the company, calling it a “phase change” for an organisation that once lived by the motto “move fast and break things.”

“We just grew so quickly for like the first 18 years,” Zuckerberg said in a conference call. “It’s very hard to really crank on efficiency while you’re growing that quickly. I just think we’re in a different environment now.”

The cost cuts reflect Meta’s updated plans for lower data centre construction expenses this year.

In November, the company cut more than 11,000 jobs in response, a precursor to the tens of thousands of layoffs in the tech industry that followed.

“Our management theme for 2023 is the ‘Year of Efficiency’ and we are focused on becoming a stronger and more nimble organisation,” Zuckerberg said in a statement.

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U.S. Fed Reserve hikes interest rates by 25 basis points



The U.S. Federal Reserve has announced its latest interest rate hike

The 25 basis-point increase comes after a half-point hike in December, and a three-quarter-point increase the month before that.

And it came with the forecast that the Fed isn’t finished.

“We will need substantially more evidence to be confident that inflation is on a sustained downward path,” U.S. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in a press conference.

Powell noted positive signs that inflation was beginning to abate.

“We can now say I think for the first time that the disinflationary process has started, and we see it in goods prices, so far…but it is insufficient to signal an end to the rate hikes, though it would be stepping down from last year’s rapid pace of increases.”

Future rate increases would be in quarter-percentage-point increments.

“We will continue to make our decisions meeting by meeting, taking into account the totality of incoming data and their implications for the outlook for economic activity and inflation,” Powell added.

The decision lifted the benchmark overnight interest rate to a range between 4.50% and 4.75% – a move widely anticipated by investors and flagged by U.S. central bankers ahead of this week’s two-day policy session.

Inflation, based on the Fed’s preferred measure, slowed to a 5% annual rate in December.

The Fed hopes it can continue nudging inflation lower to its 2% target without triggering a deep recession or causing a substantial rise in the unemployment rate from the current 3.5%, a level rarely seen in recent decades.

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