Friday's technology stories

Amazon says email to workers banning TikTok was a goof

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An email Amazon sent to many of its employees Friday morning telling them to remove TikTok from their mobile devices was sent in error, the company said later the same day.

Driving the news: The original email said TikTok, the popular social video app that's facing criticism for alleged ties to the Chinese government, was a security risk for Amazon workers who accessed company email on their phones.

Jul 10, 2020 - Technology

Report: Facebook considering political ad blackout ahead of election

Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Facebook is considering blocking candidates and causes from purchasing political ads in the U.S. ahead of the 2020 presidential election in November, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The tech giant has been facing intense scrutiny for allowing politicians and advocacy groups to micro-target political ads on its platform, and for not fact-checking the ads. It has repeatedly defended its political ad policies, citing free speech. Banning ads leading up to the election would be a major reversal.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jul 10, 2020 - Technology

Amazon tells workers to delete TikTok from devices they use for work

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Amazon, citing security risks, told its employees Friday to uninstall social video app TikTok from any mobile devices they use to access their work email.

Why it matters: The move comes amid a broader backlash against TikTok, in part due to questions around possible ties to Beijing. TikTok is owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jul 10, 2020 - Economy & Business

ByteDance rethinks corporate structures for TikTok after political backlash

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

ByteDance is considering new corporate structures for its TikTok business, as it comes under political pressure in the U.S. and other countries for ties to China's government, per the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: The Beijing-based firm is the world's most valuable privately held tech company, estimated to be worth upwards of $110 billion by direct investors and $150 billion in recent secondary market trades.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jul 10, 2020 - Technology

Apple releases public beta of iOS 14

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

After a couple weeks of developer-only testing, Apple has made available a public beta version of iOS 14, the software that will power iPhones starting this fall.

Why it matters: The early release gives early adopters and developers ample time to find bugs ahead of the full release, as well as a chance to play around with the new features announced in June.

Jul 10, 2020 - Politics & Policy

TikTok users troll Trump campaign's official app

Screenshot: Apple App Store

TikTok users have again tried to prank President Trump, flooding his official campaign app with thousands of one-star reviews, Bloomberg eports.

Why it matters: Generation Z is retaliating against the president after his administration has floated banning the Chinese-owned app — a favorite among their cohort — in recent days over data privacy concerns, which TikTok denies.

Big Tech marshals a right-leaning army of allies for antitrust fight

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As tech's giants prepare to face off with antitrust enforcers this summer, they will draw support from an array of predominantly right-leaning defenders ranging from influential former government officials to well-connected think tanks.

The big picture: The Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission and the states have multiple investigations of monopolistic behavior underway targeting Facebook and Google, with other giants like Amazon and Apple also facing rising scrutiny. Many observers expect a lawsuit against Google to land this summer.

Kim Hart, author of Cities
Jul 9, 2020 - Health

Schools confront broadband access crisis

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

School districts are taking it upon themselves to help families get connected to the internet as they face down a long future of virtual learning.

Why it matters: In the COVID-19 era of education, broadband is an essential service that families need to stay connected — and that school systems require to equitably educate children in their districts.

SoFi applies for a bank charter (again)

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

SoFi, the fin-tech "unicorn" best known for refinancing student loans, has applied again for a bank charter with the Office of the Currency Comptroller, the company tells Axios.

Flashback: SoFi first sought a bank license in 2017 so it could offer deposit accounts, but withdrew its application following the ouster of former CEO Mike Cagney.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jul 9, 2020 - Technology

Exclusive: Intellectual Ventures taps TiVo exec to run patent fund

Intellectual Ventures founder Nathan Myhrvold. Photo: Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Intellectual Ventures has hired former TiVo executive Arvin Patel to run its giant patent fund.

Why it matters: The Seattle-area company, run by former Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold, has become one of the world's largest patent holders through a variety of mean including licensing, strategic partnerships and patent sales.

TikTok caught in a U.S.-China vise

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

TikTok, the short-video platform popular among teens for sharing funny moments and dance moves, is getting pulled into the deadly serious geopolitical conflict between China and the U.S.

The big picture: More than any other Chinese-owned app, TikTok has found success outside of its homeland. But as the U.S. sounds security alarms and China turns the legal screws on Hong Kong, the company is fighting to prove that it's not beholden to Beijing — and to forestall a threatened ban by the Trump administration.

TikTok reveals content moderation stats amid growing global pressure

Sign on Beijing headquarters of TikTok parent company ByteDance. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

TikTok offered a detailed look at its removal of videos around the globe Thursday as the popular video-sharing app faces pressure in the U.S. and abroad over its ties to China.

The big picture: The Trump administration says it's considering a U.S. ban on TikTok, which is Chinese-owned. India last month banned the app along with more than 50 other Chinese mobile apps.