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WhatsApp Says Brazil Central Bank Willing to Restore Payments Service

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Facebook messaging service WhatsApp said on Thursday that Brazil’s central bank had said it intended to find a way to restore the payments service in the country by working with Visa and Mastercard.

“The central bank made clear that they support platforms like WhatsApp that are innovating in digital payments,” Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp, said in a statement.

On Tuesday, Brazil’s central bank and antitrust watchdog suspended WhatsApp’s newly launched payments services, as they see potential damage in the areas of competition, efficiency and data privacy. Regulators blocked WhatsApp partnerships with Visa, Mastercard and Cielo SA .

As Cielo is the only card acquirer in a deal with WhatsApp, Brazil’s antitrust watchdog Cade is investigating if the terms of the partnership could favor it in terms of exclusivity.

Cade estimates WhatsApp could increase Cielo’s card transactions by 10 percent in a conservative scenario. Cielo is already the country’s biggest acquirer with a 41 percent market share

Still, Whatsapp reinforced in the statement its plans to open the service to more players in the future and to provide payments via central bank payments platform PIX.

Brazil is the first country where WhatsApp has announced a nationwide payments service. It has over 120 million users, its second largest market behind India.

The central bank did not immediately comment on the matter.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Facebook Repairs Bug That Prompted Brief iOS App Outages

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 11 July 2020

Popular smartphone apps including Spotify and Pinterest suffered outages Friday for a few hours due to a bug in Facebook’s systems.

Facebook has resolved the problem, a spokesperson said.

“Earlier today, a code change triggered crashes for some iOS apps using the Facebook SDK,” or software development kit, the spokesperson said.

“We identified the issue quickly and resolved it. We apologise for any inconvenience.”

App users began reporting on Twitter early Friday that they were unable to open Spotify and other sites.

Downdetector, which monitors for internet problems in real time, showed a rise in problems for a number of applications, including Spotify, Pinterest, Waze, and The New York Times.

It reported a major spike in problems around 10:30am GMT (4pm IST), and a decline in user issues at around 1pm GMT (6:30pm IST).

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Amazon Bans, Then Un-Bans TikTok From Employee Mobile Devices

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 11 July 2020

Amazon on Friday said it mistakenly sent workers an email telling them to dump the TikTok mobile application from their cell phones because of security concerns.

The internal message told workers they could still access the popular video-snippet sharing platform using laptop web browsers, but would lose access to company email on smartphones that have TikTok.

“This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error,” an Amazon spokesperson said in reply to an AFP inquiry without going into detail.

“There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok.”

The concern expressed in the internal message appeared to be that the TikTok mobile app could access Amazon company email, according to a copy posted online.

“User security is of the utmost importance to TikTok -– we are fully committed to respecting the privacy of our users,” a spokeswoman for the company said in reply to an AFP inquiry.

She added that TikTok welcomed “a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have.”

The Democratic National Committee is advising campaign staff to avoid using TikTok on personal devices and, if they do, to keep the app on a smartphone separate from that used for work, given the amount of data it can track, a DNC official told AFP.

TikTok this week withdrew from Hong Kong in an exit seen partly as an effort to shake off the “label of it being a company that is controlled by China and shares data with the Chinese government,” Zhu Zhiqun, a political science professor at Bucknell University in the United States, told AFP.

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in China.

The app’s feeds of 15- to 60-second video clips are often fun and humorous, featuring everything from make-up tutorials to dance routines.

However, with its rising popularity in the United States, TikTok has also come under increasing scrutiny from the government here.

US President Donald Trump said this week he was considering banning it as a way to punish China over the coronavirus pandemic.

Top US lawmakers have raised concerns over the potential for TikTok to leak user data to the Chinese government.

India — where TikTok is also wildly popular — recently blocked the platform on national security grounds following a deadly border clash between its soldiers and Chinese forces.

TikTok staunchly denies snooping allegations.

“We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked,” a spokesman said on Wednesday.

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TikTok Says Removed Over 49 Million Videos in Second Half of 2019

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By Reuters | Updated: 10 July 2020

Social media app TikTok said on Thursday it removed more than 49 million videos from its platform in the second half of last year for violating its guidelines.

These videos accounted for less than 1 percent of the total posted on the platform and fell under categories such as “violent and graphic content, hate speech and adult nudity”, it said in a report released on its website.

About one-third of the videos were from India, followed by the United States, and Pakistan, it added.

The transparency report comes days after the company owned by China’s ByteDance was banned from India, one of its biggest markets, after a Sino-India border clash. The short-form video making app also decided to exit the Hong Kong market following China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

TikTok launched a new platform to court small business advertisers on Wednesday. The platform, however, was fraught with challenges, especially after the Trump administration’s threat this week to impose a ban on China-based social media apps.


© Thomson Reuters 2020

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