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TikTok’s US users prepare for life without the video app
14 July 2020, 8:19 PM

Ty Gibson, 20, of Greensboro, North Carolina, brushed off speculation last week on TikTok that his favourite video sharing platform was going to be banned.

By Thursday, users panicked after a glitch on the service erased video views, a measure of video popularity. Suddenly, news reports of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s threats to block Chinese-owned apps like TikTok hit home as he watched other users flood the app with goodbyes.

US lawmakers have raised national security concerns over TikTok’s handling of user data, and said they were worried it would be required to share data with the Chinese government.

“I thought it was the end,” Gibson said in an interview. “I didn’t even have time to think things through.”

Gibson recorded his own farewell video for his 4.6 million fans, asking them to follow him on YouTube and Facebook’s Instagram.

While TikTok’s fate in the United States is undecided, the news set off a wave of worries among its devoted user base, who are coming up with backup plans on other services. Some, like e-sports star Tyler Blevins, known more widely as Ninja, who has 4 million followers on TikTok, told his 6 million followers on Twitter that he already deleted TikTok from his phone.

Loyalists are sitting tight for now. But they are distraught – sharing videos of themselves crying (and dancing) with hashtags like #TikTokBan which has 212 million views and #SaveTikTok, with 315 million views on the app.

“If TikTok loses consumer trust, then they lose their relevance,” said Alexander Patino, deputy director of the American Influencer Council, a trade association for social media personalities who market products online.

While there are real security questions about TikTok, the Trump administration’s motives are primarily political, which make it not only difficult to predict what the government will decide, but nearly impossible to fight back if it proceeds with a ban, said Justin Sherman, a nonresident fellow at think tank Atlantic Council, who focuses on geopolitics and cybersecurity.

“I don’t think the company could do anything to placate them,” he said.

TikTok has said it has never given user data to the Chinese government, and would not do so if asked, adding that the company has not been asked.

Sponsors on hold

The effect of a ban on the advertising world would be minimal as TikTok’s ad business is still nascent and brands would easily migrate to other platforms, one executive at a major ad agency said.

But corporate sponsorship of so-called influencers has already suffered. One major consumer-goods brand put a five-figure deal with a TikTok influencer on ice for at least two months, because it did not want to be associated with negative news about the app, said Joe Gagliese, chief executive of influencer marketing agency Viral Nation, declining to name the brand.

James Lamprey, a chef with 1.2 million TikTok followers, said the uncertainty has caused a camera company to pause their deal with him for a sponsored TikTok video, worth $1,000, until there was more clarity about the app’s fate.

Lamprey said he has started trying to get his TikTok fans to follow him on Instagram. But if TikTok is banned, the impact to his earnings could be huge, he said.

“For TikTok, these brands are contacting me left and right,” Lamprey said. “They want to get in front of that audience.”

Rivals closing in

Smaller rivals like Triller, Byte and Dubsmash have watched downloads of their apps spike after Pompeo’s comments. Some are now proactively targeting TikTok users.

Triller, which became known for its focus on hip-hop music, is reaching out to top TikTok stars while it fields inbound interest from creators wanting to grow their Triller accounts, said Ryan Kavanaugh, founder of Proxima Media, which operates Triller.

Taylor Cassidy, a TikTok influencer with 1.7 million followers, said some TikTok competitors, which she declined to name, have nudged her to build her presence on those apps, guaranteeing her an immediate verified account, which often helps influencers negotiate larger deals.

Daily app downloads in the United States for Byte, Dubsmash, Triller and Likee have all jumped, according to data from Apptopia. In particular, Dubsmash more than doubled to over 46,000 downloads on Thursday, while Byte skyrocketed to over 28,000 downloads on Thursday, versus just 3 400 the day before.

Dylan Tate, an 18-year-old TikTok user from Greenville, South Carolina with 1.2 million followers, has been promoting reasons why users should move to Byte in his recent TikTok videos, including that Byte gives 100% of ad revenue to its creators.

“I’ve been commenting on people’s TikToks to tell them to go to Byte. Now people are doing it themselves,” he said.

Mop up efforts under way in the Western Cape after monster storm
14 July 2020, 6:21 PM

Communities across the Western Cape embarked on mopping up operations today, following a storm that swept across the province this past weekend.

Many people in low-lying areas were affected due to flooding and strong winds.

70-year-old pensioner Thandeka Thunyiswa says it’s the same story every year. She wakes up in water, goes to bed in water and even has to struggle to get to ablution facilities that are full of water. Thunyiswa has lived in the area since 1994 and says the situation is not good for her health as she has high blood pressure and arthritis.

“Sometimes I run to stay with my relative. Sometimes I am sleeping here at my neighbours because I can’t do otherwise because I’m not able to walk far.”

Her neighbour Nosipho Mncedane faced a similar situation. This time, the storm destroyed all her electrical appliances.

“I’m sick from putting my hands in water because I have diabetes. I’m staying here from 1992,” explains Mncedane.

Community leaders are concerned.

“The water inside the houses, old people are staying in water but we are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. We are going to get more infections because it’s cold, that’s my worry,” says Gugulethu Community Activist Nombeko Leputhing.

In the video below, winter storm shuts several schools in Western Cape:

At Kanana in Gugulethu, on the Cape Flats, the Gift of the Givers brought relief to people living in dire conditions, including the elderly. The NGO delivered necessities such as masks, soap, mattresses and food. The organisation says it is inundated with calls for help after the storm, which is exacerbating the already dire crises of escalating poverty since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gift of the Givers Western Cape Project Manager Ali Sablay says: “We find many of these people who had jobs before are now left at home. They are in the same situation as their neighbours. So we can see poverty is increasing and the situation is getting worse out in the townships in terms of hunger. We find young children going to bed hungry at night and there are many other situations and this is one of the thousands of cases we are dealing with in the Western Cape and the whole country.”

City of Cape Town Disaster Management completed assessments in some townships. Officials are clearing debris, such as fallen trees, and deploying assistance where needed.

City deserve an apology says defiant Guardiola
14 July 2020, 4:55 PM

Manchester City Manager Pep Guardiola said his team deserved an apology, after their two year UEFA ban from European football was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) – a verdict he called a “good day for football”.

Guardiola said the club’s reputation had been damaged by the furore around allegations that they broke Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules and fired back at comments from managers Jose Mourinho and Juergen Klopp. “Jose and all the managers should know that we were damaged. We should be apologised (to). Because, like I said many times, if we did something wrong, we will accept absolutely the decisions by UEFA and CAS because we did something wrong,” he said in a news conference on Tuesday.

“We have the right to defend ourselves when we believe what we have done is correct, is right. Three independent judges said this,” he added.

Liverpool manager Klopp had described the CAS verdict on Monday as “not a good day for football” but Guardiola disagreed. “Yesterday was a good day for football because we play with the same rules of FFP as all the clubs in Europe. All of them. (If) we break this FFP, we will be banned,” he said. “We were damaged. The people say that we cheated and lying many, many times. The presumption of innocence was not there and after, when it happened and it was right, of course, we are incredibly happy because we can defend what we have done on the pitch.”

Guardiola also took aim at Spanish league president Javier Tebas, a long-standing critic of City, who had questioned whether CAS was the right court for deciding such matters. “He is another one, this guy Senor Tebas must be so jealous for the Premier League, the English football,” he said.

“He is an incredible legal expert from what I see, so next time we will ask in which court, which judges we have to go. He has to be a little bit worried or concerned about La Liga, (he should) focus on there.

“Normally these kinds of people, when the sentence is good for him it’s perfect like happened many times in Spain right now, but when the sentence is against, the problem is for the other ones,” added Guardiola.

“We will be in the Champions League next season, Senor Tebas, because what we did, we did it properly.”

WHO warns against reopening schools during COVID-19 peak
14 July 2020, 4:54 PM

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against the reopening of schools while local transmissions of the coronavirus are on the rise.

The call comes at the time when South Africa has introduced a gradual reopening of schools amid a spike in the infection rate.  The United States, Zimbabwe, France and many other countries are also preparing for the reopening of schools.

Schooling has resumed in various parts of the world as countries lift their movement restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. But some schools were soon shut down after learners and teachers tested positive. In South Africa, the Education Department took the decision to have a phased resumption of the academic year. However, some schools in the townships and rural areas lack even the basics such as running water and suitable ablution facilities.

The country currently has more than 4 000 COVID-19 related deaths.

World Health Organisation’s Health Emergency Programme Executive Director Mike Ryan saying the best time to reopen schools is during low community transmission.

In the video below, Dr Ryan elaborates on his call:

But, South Africa’s Health Minister has defended the country’s decision to reopen schools.

Dr Zweli Mkhize says it wasn’t taken lightly. Mkhize says communities have to learn to co-exist with the virus and scientists, doctors and pediatricians were part of the decision.

“We asked them to give us advice, what do we do with the schools? They’ve said no we can open the schools and of course there are these protocols that were put in place. While we understand what the WHO has said, our approach to the schools is based also on some of the precautionary measures that need to be taken as you go into the schools. It is because we know we are going to be co-existing with the virus for the rest of the year and up until next year, so we need to begin to adjust to that kind of life with the virus.”

WHO’s chief, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, agrees that the challenge of the pandemic is far from over.

More than thirteen million people have been infected with the virus while more than half a million have died globally.




SAA rescue plan gets the thumbs up, Philip Saunders appointed interim CEO
14 July 2020, 3:19 PM

South African Airways (SAA) as we know it will no longer exist. The SAA Business Rescue plan was adopted with 86% of the creditor’s voting in favour of the amended plan.

Government also welcomed the vote in favour and applauded creditors and stakeholders for realising that a new, restructured, competitive airline, is the best option to immediately take the airline back to the skies.  In terms of the Companies Act, the proposed rescue plan may be implemented subject to funding being obtained.

The Department of Public Enterprise has also undertaken to provide proof of funding for the plan to go ahead as required by the Companies Act.

The Department of Public Enterprise says they will appoint a new interim board in the coming weeks with its current acting COO Philip Saunders acting as the new interim Chief Executive.

“We have received proxy’s and 86% are in favour of the business rescue plan of SAA. In the vote, in terms of the Act, the business plan will be approved on a preliminary basis if it is supported by the holders of more than 75 percent of the creditor voting interest and in this case and the second part the votes in support of the proposed plans included at least 50% of the independent creditors voting interest. The non-independent interest if less than a percent,” says Siviwe Dongwana, one of the joint Business Rescue Practitioners.

Acting Director-General at the Department of Public Enterprises Kgathatso Tlhakudi earlier urged creditors to vote in favour of the plan. He said it was in the best interest for government to support the restructuring of the airline. He says the new airline will be an attractive asset for an equity partner.

“The old way of contracting for labour and services will be departed, proactivity and efficiency will guide the performance of the management system of the airline going forward. The SAA that will emerge from restructuring is going to be assets. We have also started a process of getting a transaction advisor in place to pair up the engagements that we have been having as government with prospective strategic equity partners.”

In the video below, unions happy for securing jobs for more workers at SAA:

Last week, government and six major labour unions reached an agreement regarding retrenchments at SAA.  All unions except those representing pilots had accepted the new Voluntary Severance Package deal.

About 2 700 employees will lose their jobs. However, the retrenchment packages will be supported by a social and skills development plan through SETA for those who will lose their jobs.

“We have reached a point of saving the airline. It is no longer about just saving it here and there but it is about saving the airline. We are all avoiding liquidation. We know that what caused the airline to come to its knees was poor governance, corruption, looting and now that must be changed. We are ready to engage and start afresh,” says  National Transport Movement (NTM) President, Mashudu Raphetha.

The new plan will also mean that employees will also get preference when a position becomes available in a new, restructured national airline that must emerge from the rescue process- provided they have the required skills and competence.  The severance package for employees includes one-week pay calculated per year of completed service, one-month notice pay, accumulated leave paid out and a 13th cheque.

Government will need additional R16 billion to fund the airline’s rescue plan.




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