Hillicon Valley: Trump backs potential Microsoft, TikTok deal, sets September deadline | House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing | Facebook labels manipulated Pelosi video

Hillicon Valley: Trump backs potential Microsoft, TikTok deal, sets September deadline | House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing | Facebook labels manipulated Pelosi video
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TIKTOK DRAMA (NOT THAT KIND): President TrumpDonald TrumpEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Ex-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' MORE said Monday that social media platform TikTok must end its U.S. operations on Sept. 15 if a pending deal with Microsoft to buy the company from Chinese group ByteDance does not go through.


“We set a date — I set a date of around Sept. 15, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States,” Trump told reporters. “But if somebody, and whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else, buys it, that will be interesting.” 

Trump noted that he approved of Microsoft buying TikTok.

Microsoft confirmed Sunday that it had spoken to Trump and was in talks to buy TikTok from ByteDance, a Beijing-based company that is currently under investigation by the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. 

“I don’t mind whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else — a big company, a secure company, a very American company — buys it,” Trump said Monday. “It’s probably easier to buy the whole thing than to buy 30 percent of it.”

Trump emphasized that whether Microsoft or another company closes a deal on TikTok, “a very substantial [part] of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen.” 

The announcement comes after days of uncertainty over TikTok’s future following Trump telling reporters Friday that he planned to ban the platform from operating in the United States, citing concerns over its ties to the Chinese Communist Party.  

Trump’s comments were made the same day White House trade adviser Peter Navarro warned “mothers of America” during appearances on CNN and Fox News of the potential dangers of TikTok to children. 


“It’s about 10 a.m., the Chinese Communist Party may know where your children are, that is essentially the problem,” Navarro said during the CNN appearance. “We know there is a huge national security and privacy problem.”

Navarro raised concerns around Microsoft’s potential purchase of the U.S. stake of the company, noting that Microsoft has been involved in tech issues in China and describing it as “a multinational company that has made billions in China.”

Read more.

TOP HOUSE REPUBLICANS CALL FOR BRIEFING: Three top House Republicans are requesting a classified briefing from Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoSunday shows preview: Biden foreign policy in focus as Dem tensions boil up back home Sunday shows preview: Infrastructure expected to dominate as talks continue to drag The triumph and tragedy of 1989: Why Tiananmen still matters MORE on Chinese technology platforms including TikTok.

“While we remain deeply concerned with TikTok, such concerns extend beyond the popular short-form video app," Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseWisconsin state lawmaker compares museum mask policy to Nazi Party Overnight Health Care: Public option plan left out of Biden budget proposal | House Republicans demand congressional probe into COVID-19 origin | Half the total US population have received at least one vaccine dose House Republicans demand congressional probe into COVID-19 origin MORE (R-La.), Energy and Commerce ranking member Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenLobbying world Give Republicans the climate credit they deserve Fox hires former GOP lawmaker Greg Walden as political consultant MORE (R-Ore.) and Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersNew Alzheimer's drug sparks backlash over FDA, pricing FDA approves first new Alzheimer's drug in almost 20 years OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden suspends Arctic oil leases issued under Trump |  Experts warn US needs to better prepare for hurricane season | Progressives set sights on Civilian Climate Corps MORE (R-Wash.) wrote in a letter Monday. "Accordingly, to learn more about such significant threats, we respectfully request a classified briefing on TikTok and other technology companies with purported ties to the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] at your earliest convenience."

The request comes amid renewed scrutiny of TikTok for its ties to China.

The short-form video app's parent company, ByteDance, is headquartered in and operates out of Beijing, though TikTok says its American data has been moved to servers in the U.S.

The Beijing connection has riled China hawks for months, but the situation escalated last week when President Trump threatened to block the popular app from operating in the U.S.

Although his authority to do so is questionable, the Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has reportedly asked ByteDance to sell off TikTok.

Microsoft confirmed Sunday that it has been exploring a deal to purchase the app after speaking with Trump.

Microsoft said that it would complete discussions with TikTok by Sept. 15. The companies have both provided a notice of intent to the CFIUS to explore a proposal that would give Microsoft ownership of the app in United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. 

Read more here.

FACEBOOK PLACES PELOSI LABEL: A “partly false” label was added to a manipulated video shared on Facebook over the weekend that made it appear as if Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNew Alzheimer's drug sparks backlash over FDA, pricing Sunday shows preview: Biden foreign policy in focus as Dem tensions boil up back home It's not just Manchin: No electoral mandate stalls Democrats' leftist agenda MORE (D-Calif.) was repeatedly slurring her words during a press conference.

However, Facebook elected not to remove the clip, which had garnered millions of views and nearly 90,000 shares as of Monday morning. The episode marked the second instance in which the tech giant has decided against removing an altered video that was slowed to make it seem as if the congresswoman was sick or drunk. CNN first reported on the development. 

The clip in question was shared on Facebook on Saturday with the caption, "this is unbelievable, she is blowed out of her mind, I bet this gets took down!" Included is a 55-second video from a May press conference in which Pelosi addresses comments President Trump made about MSNBC anchor Joe ScarboroughCharles (Joe) Joseph ScarboroughScarborough, Greenwald trade insults on Twitter over rise of Trump Biden's poor TV ratings against Trump is exactly what this administration wants Mayor de Blasio announces New York City to 'fully reopen' on July 1 MORE, an outspoken critic of the president. 

Lead Stories, a member of Facebook's independent fact-checking network, fact-checked the post on Sunday, noting that the "digitally slowed down to make it appear as if Pelosi was intoxicated." The post now includes a "partly false information" message, which will significantly limit the video's reach on the platform, according to Facebook policies. Individuals who shared the video will also receive a notification. 

"The original video revealed [Pelosi] was speaking and acting normally," Lead Stories wrote in its assessment of the manipulated video. 

A Facebook spokesperson told The Hill that the video did not meet its grounds for removal. 

“Following an incident over a year ago with a previous video of Speaker Pelosi, we took a number of key steps, making it very clear to people on Facebook when a third-party fact-checker determines content to be false and updating our policy to make explicit the kind of manipulated media we will remove," the spokesperson said.

"And, as always, when a video is determined false, its distribution is dramatically reduced and people who see it, try to share it, or have already shared it, see warnings alerting them that it’s false," the spokesperson continued.

Read more.


NEW BILL TO BOOST ELECTIONS: A group of House Republicans on Monday introduced legislation that would appropriate $400 million to states to address election challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Emergency Assistance for Safe Elections (EASE) Act would designate $200 million to assist with sanitizing in-person polling stations and purchasing personal protective equipment, while a further $100 million would go towards recruiting and training new poll workers, following a nationwide shortage of workers due to the pandemic.

The final $100 million would be appropriated for states to maintain the accuracy of their voter registration lists.

Other provisions in the bill include measures to increase the cybersecurity of the elections process, including establishing an election cyber assistance unit at the Election Assistance Commission, and updating voluntary voting system guidelines established by the Help America Vote Act to cover next-generation voting technology, such as e-pollbooks. 

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), the ranking member of the House Administration Committee and the lead sponsor of the bill, said in a statement that it was “critical” the bill is included in the next COVID-19 relief package to help states struggling with new election challenges. 

“Most states are faced with running essentially two kinds of elections this fall: in-person and expanded mail-in voting, which means added costs to get it right,” Davis said. “When states failed to do this in recent primaries, the risk of disenfranchising voters increased significantly.”

Davis emphasized that “continuing to engage with local election officials and provide oversight of states will be necessary to protect the right to vote in the November election.”


Read more about the legislation here.

ZOOM HALTS CHINA SALES: Zoom will stop selling new and upgraded products directly to customers in mainland China, the company announced on its Chinese website Monday.

“Dear Customers, thank you for choosing our services,” the website reads. “We wish to inform you that we will be selling services in Mainland China only through our partners.”

The U.S.-founded company wrote that if its customers in mainland China need “online video conferencing” services, they can connect with Zoom’s partners, which include Bizconf Communications, Suirui Zhumu Video Conference and Systec Umeet. It is unclear what sparked Zoom’s decision. 

Zoom first informed customers in mainland China of the change on Monday, and it is scheduled to begin on Aug. 23, a Zoom spokesperson told The Hill in a statement. 

“Our go-to-market model in Mainland China has included direct sales, online subscription, and sales through partners,” the spokesperson said. “We are now shifting to a partner-only model with Zoom technology embedded in partner offerings, which will provide better local support to users in Mainland China.”

“Users in Mainland China may continue to join Zoom meetings as participants,” they added.

A letter obtained by CNBC said the company stopped selling online subscriptions in mainland China two months ago. 

The Zoom-recommended third-party partners sell products while utilizing some of the company’s technology. But products will not be available in mainland China directly from Zoom.

The video-conferencing company has received scrutiny in the U.S. for its connections to China. Earlier this year, Zoom reported unintentionally routing some meetings through Chinese services. It also closed an activist’s account who hosted a video commemorating the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, according to CNBC.

Read more.

SNAPCHAT TESTING MUSIC: Snap Inc. announced on Monday that Snapchat will test adding music to its posts to allow users to share music and the music industry to promote its songs.

Snapchat’s parent company has secured the rights from music companies like Warner Music Group, Universal Music Publishing Group and Merlin to permit users to send snaps with music. 

The feature will allow users to swipe up on posts that include music to see the album art, song title and name of the artist, according to a press release. Users can click on the “Play This Song” link to listen to the entire song on streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and SoundCloud.

“We’re always looking for new ways to give Snapchatters creative tools to express themselves,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Music is a new dimension they can add to their Snaps, that helps capture feelings and moments they want to share with their real friends.”

Snapchat will first introduce the music feature in New Zealand and Australia starting on Monday. The company plans to expand access to the feature later this year, a spokesperson told Bloomberg News. 

Snapchat is following in the footsteps of Instagram and TikTok with the music feature. The company said in the release that it has a higher number of users in the U.S. than Twitter and TikTok together and that it reaches 90 percent of people aged 13 to 24.  

Read more.

Lighter click: Jessica, Only Child, Illinois, Chicago

An op-ed to chew on: Congress has a shot at correcting Trump's central mistake on cybersecurity


This tool could protect your photos From Facial Recognition (New York Times / Kashmir Hill)

Amazon workers blocked delivery trucks from leaving a warehouse for hours (Motherboard / Lauren Kaori Gurley)

Why Microsoft wants Tiktok (The Verge / Tom Warren)

Google accused by developer of retaliation for cooperating with House antitrust investigation (Washington Post / Reed Albergotti)