News·3 min read

Daily Skimm: TikTok, COVID-19, and Brandy's New Album

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Aug 3, 2020

On the Clock

The Story

TikTok's time could be up.

B-b-but, Gen Z...

While the group apparently makes up about 60% of the video-sharing app's users (a casual 800 million people), TikTok's been something of a saving grace for people of all ages to dance away their feelings during quarantine. But countrieslawmakers, and President Trump say the app – owned by Chinese internet company ByteDance – is not good For You. And last Friday, Trump said he would ban it.

Why is that?

Because of national security concerns. US officials have accused the company of sharing users' data to spy on US citizens and potentially even influence the US election. They're also worried about intellectual property theft, which has already cost the US billions of dollars. One US senator called it a "Trojan horse." But TikTok says 'don't worry' – US user data is under "strict controls" and only stored in the US. Now, Microsoft is entering the chat.

What do you mean?

Last week, rumors that Microsoft was looking to buy TikTok's American operations spread faster than you scrolled through its bite-sized videos. After speaking with Trump, Microsoft said the deal with ByteDance was still on the table, pending a security review. And that it would build on the app's current structure but with enforced "world-class security, privacy, and digital safety protections."


It's not the first time the US has taken steps to ban a Chinese company over national security concerns (see: Huawei and ZTE). And TikTok's already been banned by US military branches. But now that an American company's offered to buy it up, some believe the security concerns will be a thing of the past. Others are still worried about the ever-growing power of Big Tech.

And Also...This

What doesn't sound good...

A "new phase" of COVID-19. Yesterday, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said the US entered a "new phase" in the fight against the virus, calling it "extraordinarily widespread" across rural and urban areas. She stressed the ongoing importance of social distancing and wearing masks...even potentially at home (for people who live with someone who is at risk). It comes as cases in the South and Midwest have skyrocketed in recent weeks. And as California became the first state to report more than 500,000 cases. In all, the US has reported more than 4.6 million infections and over 154,000 deaths.

Whose case has updates…

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's. Yesterday, President Trump called for the federal government to seek the death penalty for the Boston Marathon bomber. Reminder: In 2013, Tsarnaev and his brother planted homemade bombs at the finish line, killing three people and injuring hundreds. While his brother died in a shootout with police, Tsarnaev was convicted on 30 charges and faced execution. But last week, a federal appeals court threw out his death sentence. It argued the original jury wasn't fully vetted for potential bias and ordered a new trial to determine whether Tsarnaev should be executed. Now, Trump is saying that "rarely has anybody deserved the death penalty more than" Tsarnaev and is asking the gov to seek it once again.

Who's facing backlash...

Ellen DeGeneres. Last month, nearly a dozen current and former employees of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" spoke to BuzzFeed News, accusing show execs and HR of racism and intimidation. Allegations included employees being fired for taking medical leave and racist comments toward a Black employee. WarnerMedia launched an internal investigation into the show and Ellen apologized, saying she's "committed to ensuring" this doesn't happen again. But these aren't the only accusations the show faces. Dozens of former employees have also accused three of the show's exec producers of sexual harassment and misconduct including groping and soliciting oral sex. Two of the accused are reportedly denying the allegations.

Who's got us waving 'welcome home' signs…

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken. Yesterday, the two NASA astronauts splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico after two months at the International Space Station. The mission was a major test for Elon Musk's SpaceX Dragon, a reusable capsule carrying humans back to Earth safely.

While we're all still singing along to Beyoncé's new album...

The gifts keep on coming. Welcome back, Brandy.

Skimm’d by Maria del Carmen Corpus, Mariza Smajlaj, Ellen Burke, Niven McCall-Mazza, Clem Robineau, and Julie Shain

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