Hillicon Valley: Trump order targets TikTok, WeChat | TikTok fires back | Chinese firms hit hard in aftermath

Hillicon Valley: Trump order targets TikTok, WeChat | TikTok fires back | Chinese firms hit hard in aftermath
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BIG LEGAL(?) CHANGE: President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Ocasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Third judge orders Postal Service to halt delivery cuts MORE on Thursday night issued an executive order barring any transactions between U.S. companies and the Chinese parent company of TikTok beginning in 45 days, the latest action in the administration's campaign against the app.

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The order essentially forces the parent company, ByteDance, to divest from TikTok, or face a ban from operating in the United States. The president had previously set a deadline of Sept. 15 for Microsoft or another American company to acquire the viral video app before he moved to ban it from operating in the U.S. 

The executive order states that "the spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People's Republic of China (China) continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by one mobile application in particular, TikTok."

Trump, citing the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, declared that any transaction with ByteDance would be prohibited beginning in 45 days, which would be Sept. 20. Any company violating the order could face sanctions.

The president issued another executive order on Thursday evening applying the same ban on transactions with the Chinese owners of messaging app WeChat. The company, Tencent Holdings, also has a stake in several popular video game developers, including Activision Blizzard and the maker of Fortnite. It's not clear if the executive order applies to those investments.

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TIKTOK RESPONDS: TikTok on Friday responded to President Trump's executive order banning the company from operating in the U.S. in 45 days, saying it shows "no adherence to the law."

The social media company went on to promise to "pursue all remedies available to us." 

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"We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process," the short-form-video-sharing platform said.

Trump's executive order issued late Thursday night justified the ban by citing national security concerns based on TikTok's ties to China.

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

The order invokes the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the National Emergencies Act. The White House making such a move is unusual and will likely face a legal challenge.

Trump could force ByteDance to divest from TikTok through the Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, but the president has seemingly skipped over that process.

TikTok said Friday that the order sets a “dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets.”

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CHINESE STOCKS PLUMMET: Chinese tech company Tencent has seen its stock tumble after President Trump signed a pair of executive orders Thursday night that targeted Chinese apps WeChat and TikTok.

Tencent owns WeChat and saw its stock dive 5 percent on Friday.

The president's executive order bans transactions with Tencent and fellow Chinese tech company ByteDance — owner of TikTok — in 45 days, starting on Sept. 20.

WeChat is China's most popular messaging app, and TikTok is one of the United States' most-used social media platforms.

The repercussions of Trump's order could be widespread, however, as Tencent also owns parts of major gaming companies including Activision Blizzard and Riot Games — makers of "League of Legends," the most-played PC game in the world.

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FACEBOOK REMOVES Q GROUP: Facebook this week took down one of the largest QAnon conspiracy theory groups over harassment and misinformation violations, a Facebook spokesperson told Reuters.

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The 200,000-member group titled “Official Q/Qanon” was taken down after several posts were removed for violating Facebook's guidelines on bullying and harassment, hate speech and false information that could lead to harm.

Facebook did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Hill.

Last month, Twitter banned thousands of QAnon accounts on its platform as part of a crackdown on conspiracy theory groups.

A Facebook spokesperson told Reuters they are following suit and strengthening their own enforcement against the groups. 

In May, Facebook removed a smaller network of QAnon accounts that was pushing a conspiracy theory that the coronavirus was developed by Bill and Melinda Gates as a cover for a depopulation campaign led by mass vaccinations.

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FEMALE LAWMAKERS PRESS FB: A group of more than 30 female Democratic members of Congress, including Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi preparing for House to decide presidency if neither Trump or Biden win electoral college: report Trump seeks boost from seniors with 0 drug discount coupons GOP senators confident Trump pick to be confirmed by November MORE (Calif.), called on Facebook Thursday to "start doing more" to crack down on misogynistic attacks and disinformation posted on its platform that targets women leaders.

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"Unfortunately, women in politics face pervasive sexism, hate, harassment, and threats of violence on your platform that make it more difficult for them to succeed in public life," they wrote in a letter spearheaded by the Democratic Women's Caucus. "We are imploring Facebook to do more to protect the ability of women to engage in democratic discourse and to foster a safe and empowering space for women."

The letter comes days after Facebook declined to remove a video manipulated to appear as if Pelosi was intoxicated, although the social media platform's fact-checkers did add a "partly false" label.

Facebook acted similarly in response to another false video of Pelosi that went viral in 2019. But the latest video was first shared on TikTok, and the company has since taken it down.

In the letter, the lawmakers called on Facebook to remove posts that threaten candidates with violence or glorify violence against women; disable accounts that repeatedly violate terms of service by threatening or harassing female leaders and candidates; and take down manipulated videos of female public figures.

"These are steps Facebook can take right now, and they could not be more urgent," the lawmakers wrote in the letter to Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Conservative groups seek to block Facebook election grants in four swing states: report Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board MORE and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

The lawmakers said that the attacks "play on common sexist tropes, portraying women as unlikable, emotional, unqualified, and dumb."

"Make no mistake, these tactics, which are used on your platform for malicious intent, are meant to silence women, and ultimately undermine our democracies. It is no wonder women frequently cite the threat of rapid, widespread, public attacks on personal dignity as a factor deterring them from entering politics," they wrote.

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In addition to the members of Congress, the letter was also signed by more than 60 female lawmakers from other legislatures around the world, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Germany, Austria, Pakistan, Ghana, South Africa, Croatia and Montenegro.

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Lighter click: Journalism is about asking the hard questions

An op-ed to chew on: Dangers of unfettered access to personally identifiable information

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

The US Declared War On TikTok Because It Can’t Handle The Truth (The Verge / Sarah Jeong)

Sensitive to claims of bias, Facebook relaxed misinformation rules for conservative pages (NBC News / Olivia Solon)

Bill Gates on Covid: Most US Tests Are ‘Completely Garbage’ (Wired / Steven Levy)

U.S. Government Contractor Embedded Software in Apps to Track Phones (Wall Street Journal / Byron Tau)

To Head Off Regulators, Google Makes Certain Words Taboo (The Markup / Adrianne Jeffries)