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19 Mar, 2024

Social media showdown: TikTok gets the cold shoulder in the US, Meta's Aussie news standoff

This Monday morning, our team couldn't resist diving into the buzz surrounding two major players in the social media arena. Here's the lowdown on what's been happening and what it all means.

In case you missed it, global giants TikTok and Meta are stirring up headlines worldwide. TikTok, the beloved short-form video platform, is facing potential trouble with a ban looming over its head in the United States. Meanwhile, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, is making absolute waves for blocking news outlets on its platforms in Australia. These big moves shed light on the challenges these tech giants face as they navigate regulatory waters and public scrutiny, as well as the influence they wield over communication and information consumption.

TikTok's brush with banishment:

The decision to potentially ban TikTok in the US stems from concerns about national security and data privacy. Initially targeted by the Trump administration due to its Chinese ownership under ByteDance, worries over data sharing with the Chinese government has fuelled the fire. While legal battles and regulatory scrutiny has slowed the process, the Biden administration is still weighing TikTok's impact on national security, leaving its future in the American market uncertain.

For millions of users, TikTok is more than just an app—it's a cultural phenomenon driving trends and shaping entertainment. Its potential loss in the US would not only affect its loyal user base but also ripple across industries that rely on the platform for marketing and engagement.

Meta's news outage in Oz:

Meanwhile, Meta is caught in a tussle with Australian regulators over news content. Three years ago, the company signed deals with Australian news outlets after the government introduced laws requiring tech companies to pay for the news on their platforms - law that only comes into effect if no commercial deal is struck by both parties.

Well, Meta has decided the cost of providing news in Australia is no longer commercially viable and has announced it won't be renewing these agreements. This is decision is pretty predictable given its consistent with Meta's actions in the UK, Europe and Canada.

What will this look like? Facebook will remove the dedicated 'News' tab, and users within Australia will potentially be blocked from accessing news-related content or accounts on all Meta technologies - an implication that has sparked widespread backlash. Meta's decision to limit access to news content has raised concerns about its influence on public discourse and information access.

Our personal favourite, Broadsheet, who delivers fun and innovative content to Australians and their visitors has been forced to start encouraging their followers to download their app and join them on TikTok.

This clash underscores broader tensions between traditional media outlets and tech companies, with the former accusing the latter of profiting from their content without adequate compensation. As governments worldwide grapple with regulating Big Tech, the standoff in Australia serves as a cautionary tale of the complexities involved in balancing corporate interests, media freedom, and consumer rights.

What does this mean for us?

It would be naive to assume these recent developments aren't going to effect us down here in New Zealand. TikTok being banned in the US would have a huge effect on the commercial viability of the platform, and result in changes to the way users and brands engage with it. Time will tell.

Any brand with a presence in Australia needs to start considering how the Meta news ban will affect their marketing strategy, given that news media sharing has been a given for so long. For example if your brand relies on PR media coverage, how are you now going to reach your Meta audience using platforms other than Facebook and Instagram? A big opportunity here for LinkedIn and the Aussie arm of TikTok.

Looking ahead:

These current events underscore the tightrope walk between social media, technology, and regulation. As these platforms shape communication and information consumption, questions about privacy, security, and corporate responsibility take centre stage. It's a wake-up call for users and creators to engage critically with the platforms we rely on daily. As we navigate this ever-changing landscape, advocating for transparency, accountability, and ethical practices becomes crucial.

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