Front Page Talking Points

FOR THE WEEK OF FEB. 15, 2021

Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

Policy change: New president keeps U.S. government's hands off TikTok for now

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1.gifSummarize another tech article or general business coverage.

2.gifNow pick any foreign news, tell what country it's from and, briefly, what happened.

3.gifDo you watch videos posted by this newspaper? What maximum length seems best, generally?

TikTok is in the news for reasons that have nothing to do with dancing, memes or other viral content. President Biden backs away from Donald Trump's moves to ban the popular video app unless it accepts more American control. The new administration halted negotiations with its Chinese owner, ByteDance, about separating the social platform's U.S. operations into an independent company. A planned sale of the American portion has been "shelved indefinitely," the Wall Street Journal first reported. The U.S. Commerce Department confirms that it's reviewing whether Trump's claims about TikTok's threat to national security justified attempts last summer to block it from phone app stores and deny it vital technical services. Courts temporarily blocked the White House's attempted ban, which state media China last fall criticized as U.S. bullying and extortion.

The presidential pause is part of "a broad review of his predecessor's efforts to address potential security risks from Chinese tech companies," the Journal said. Biden's Justice Department also asked a federal judge to delay a legal case aimed at banning TikTok in the U.S. if it stayed Chinese-owened. As a candidate, the Democratic president didn't speak publicly about the proposed TikTok spinoff, though campaign aides were told not to load the app to avoid possible Chinese snooping or data collection.

Trump cited concerns that the Communist government in Beijing (China’s capital, pronounced BAY-jing could spy on users here. TikTok denies any security risks, and says it still is trying to resolve concerns in Washington, D.C. The Trump administration's aggressive tactics were part of a push to counter China's global influence. From 2017-20, the Republican president waged a trade war with China and blocked mergers involving its companies and American businesses.

In a separate development, TikTok last week took steps to curb the spread of misinformation. It now adds banners on unverified content in the United States and Canada and will show a “caution” icon when users try to share potentially misleading videos about Covid-19, vaccines, politics or other topics. If a video is confirmed to have misleading information, it's taken off the platform – though the user posting it can appeal.

Legal scholar says: "I don’t think they see TikTok itself as a high-priority issue." – Samm Sacks, Yale Law School senior fellow

Business analyst says: "The TikTok situation could potentially be a litmus test for Biden’s first move towards ending the U.S.-China tech cold war if he eliminates this executive order around TikTok U.S. operations being sold." – Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities in New York

What’s TikTok? The social network for sharing short video was launched in 2017 for iOS and Android outside China, but only became available worldwide after merging in August 2018 with another Chinese social media service, Musical.ly. A U.S. business tracking service ranks it as the third fastest-growing brand of 2020, after Zoom and Peacock.

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2021

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