Apps

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.

Apps

TikTok officially launches a dislike button

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Months ago, TikTok started experimenting with a dislike button for the platform’s comments. Much like other platforms, the company is creating a way to promote healthier discourse. However, the experiment never had a launch date all those months ago. Finally, after months in development, TikTok is finally ready to launch the dislike button.

Through the platform’s official Twitter account, TikTok is releasing the dislike button. This time, the platform has explained how the feature will work.

As detailed before, users will not see how many dislikes a comment has. Users will only have access to the button itself to dislike and retract dislikes. Only TikTok itself can see the number of dislikes. The platform will then use the information to filer through potential hate speech and harassment that they might have missed the first go-around.

By hiding the number of dislikes, TikTok hopes that users will not be tempted to abuse the dislike button to brigade against just simply unpopular opinions.

While moderation will help the platform with a persistent problem in social media, the company does have other issues. One current problem — that has plagued the platform for years now — is the issue of China’s potential access to data from users in other countries.

SEE ALSO: TikTok is experimenting with a dislike button for comments

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Instagram can soon detect nude photos in your DMs

Currently testing

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One of the constant risks of online communication is the unexpected and unsolicited appearance of an unsightly growth emanating from a stranger’s pants. Unfortunately, not a lot of platforms offer anything preventative, outside of just blocking the offender. Testing a new tool, Instagram is finally implementing a way to automatically detect and block nudity from your DMs.

The upcoming feature was first spotted by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi on Twitter. According to early screenshots, Instagram will hide any suspected nude photos behind a prompt. Users can then choose to access the photo despite the warning. Notably, users can turn this feature off entirely.

Shortly after the leak, Meta confirmed the feature’s development through a statement issued to The Verge. While the feature is still in development, Instagram is still working on ways to protect both the sender’s identity and the recipient’s privacy.

Though the screenshots look conclusive, the feature has yet to reveal how the app can detect genitalia. A portion of the warning says that “technology on your device” is responsible. If the feature is indeed using native technology, Instagram has some work to do to assure users that it can’t store or see anyone’s nude photos.

SEE ALSO: Instagram bans Pornhub

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Spotify adds over 300,000 audiobooks to library

Available for purchase and offline listening

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After a massive push into the world of podcasts, it’s only natural that Spotify would soon look at audiobooks with a hungry eye. In the United States, the streaming platform has added a huge helping of audiobooks available for purchase.

It’s been a long time coming, too. Last year, the platform added a variety of books from the public domain for free. Narrated by famous actors like Forest Whitaker and Hilary Swank, the content came to every user, free or paying.

Now, Spotify is adding over 300,000 titles to its library. Starting today, users in the United States will have access to a dedicated section for the format. Interested users will then be led to an external link where they can purchase the book for themselves.

For consumption, Spotify will enable users to save their audiobook for offline listening. It will also allow users to control the speed of the book’s playback.

Prior to the addition, Spotify already had a niche community for audiobook lovers. If you dig deep enough, you’ll find readings of popular titles outside of the platform’s public domain offerings. You might find them lurking as albums or as podcasts. Now, however, it’s official. If you want an actual audiobook to listen to, you can choose to skip over a subscription to other audiobook platforms like Audible.

Besides audiobooks, the platform has also expanded into other services related to audio entertainment. One recent example sees Spotify selling tickets to live events directly from the service.

SEE ALSO: Spotify is now adding free audiobooks

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