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TikTok, Mobile Legends, 57 more Chinese apps banned in India

ByteDance IPO going down the drain?

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The government of India has decided to ban 59 apps of Chinese origin and released a list of all the blacklisted apps. This includes ByteDance’s TikTok, Alibaba’s UC Browser, and other popular apps like CamScanner, ShareIt, and Mobile Legends.

India’s Ministry of Information Technology said it was banning the 59 Chinese apps after receiving “many complaints from various sources” about apps that were “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner”.

TikTok was in the news recently for “snooping” on users’ clipboards, which was uncovered by the latest iOS 14 update that is currently a beta for developers. TikTok had nearly 120 million active users in India and was among the top 10 apps on Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

The list of apps banned by India also includes the microblogging platform Weibo, strategy game Clash of Kings, and e-commerce apps Club Factory and Shein.

Numerous local rip-offs of TikTok are already online and users are migrating in hordes. TikTok users too have tried to migrate their audience over a period of time to Instagram, but the conversion rate has been lower than expected.

Tarun Pathak, an analyst at research firm Counterpoint, estimated that the order will impact one in three smartphone users in India.

CamScanner and ShareIt are utilitarian apps with a very rotten reputation of data collection. Furthermore, UC Browser and UC News push too many ads and have near-zero advertising moderation. These genuinely pose a serious threat in terms of data collection.

The relations between India and China continue to head downhill amid a huge border standoff. The skirmish has already amassed casualties on both sides but neither has any intention of backing down. Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, the anti-China sentiment is at an all-time high and Indians are actively trying to avoid anything that finds its roots in China.

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Instagram actively testing Reels to take on TikTok

Short 15-second videos

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Short videos under 15 seconds have gained massive popularity thanks to platforms like TikTok. Facebook-owned Instagram has been eyeing this space for a while and has reportedly expanded testing its Reels feature in India.

According to Business Insider, the Reels feature is being actively tested in India. This only after just a few days after TikTok was banned in the country.

The app will let the user record 15-second videos, add background soundtrack, as well as include a range of effects.

TikTok has come under immense pressure globally due to its poor data collection policies. The app was recently caught snooping around the user’s clipboard after Apple updated iOS’s privacy features. US lawmakers are worried about user data being collected.

However, Facebook itself is no saint when it comes to handling private user data. The company has a history of mishaps and the platform hasn’t learned anything from its mistakes.

The feature is currently active in Brazil and acts as an extension to Stories. You can find it in Instagram’s camera section, just beside the Boomerang and Super Zoom option.

The company had previously launched a separate app called Lasso. However, it was phased out and Reels was integrated into the Instagram app.

The sudden ban of TikTok has created a vacuum in India and it’s obvious Facebook wants to quickly bridge the gap by providing an alternate service.

Facebook and Instagram recently partnered with Saregama music label in India to provide access to a music library. The Indian government has also launched an app challenge that aims to encourage domestic developers and companies to take advantage of the recent ban.

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Facebook shared user data with at least 5000 developers

When will Facebook understand privacy?

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After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has become synonymous with privacy invasion. You’d ideally expect the social networking company to learn something and change how it operates to protect personal user data. However, the company is back to square one.

A blog post confirms that Facebook shared user data to thousands of developers and continued to receive updates to users’ non-public information.

According to internal policy, if you don’t use the service within a gap of 90 days, it’ll stop having access to your data and no updates will be sent forward. However, this wasn’t practically enforced and developers continued to have unprecedented access.

This is an extremely sensitive flaw since a similar modus operandi was leveraged to funnel data of 50 million users to Cambridge Analytica. Going by Facebook’s announcement, data here includes the user’s email addresses, birthdays, language, gender, and more.

VP of Platform Partnerships Konstantinos Papamiltiadis said that Facebook estimates 5,000 developers continued to receive user information after 90 days of inactivity.

The company hasn’t revealed the number of users affected. Facebook says the issue was fixed after it was discovered but did not state when it was found and how it went undetected for such a long time.

It’s common for people to use Facebook as a sign-in option on third-party apps or websites. These services fetch your details directly from Facebook after your consent. But, if you don’t use the third-party service actively, your data also shouldn’t be shared with it. However, the issue does not plague all Facebook Login apps.

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Spotify launches Premium Duo plan for couples

Premium Duo starts at US$ 12.99

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Spotify offers multiple plans for its premium music streaming service. For a long time, the company offers a premium plan designed for one person. In recent years, it also started offering a family plan for up to 4 family members. Now, the company is expanding its portfolio once again by offering a plan for couples.

The new Premium Duo plan is Spotify’s answer to couples who want a cheaper premium plan. As the name implies, the plan is targeted towards two people. All features of Spotify Premium is here too. Couples can enjoy ad-free listening, unlimited skips, and offline songs along with new features unique to this plan.

Spotify included a Duo Mix playlist, which is unique to this plan. It works just like the Family Mix playlist on the premium family plan. Through this playlist, couples can enjoy the best songs they listen to on repeat. The playlist updates once in a while too.

The plan starts at US$ 12.99 per month, which is US$ 6.99 less than two individual plans. Like all other premium plans, there’s a free trial so couples can try out the plan first before shelling out cash.

With the new Premium Duo, there’s no need to share a single account between two people. Couples can keep listening to their own music, and it won’t affect each other’s accounts.

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