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What we know about Tesla's new Model 3

Elon Musk is rolling out a new, more affordable electric car. Tim Stevens, CNET's Roadshow editor-in-chief, joins CBSN with everything you need to know about the Tesla Model 3.
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The Technology 202: Will Congress finally update decades-old children's privacy laws?
It might finally be time as kid's screen time soars during the pandemic.
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Additional California Stimulus Checks Could Be Issued for Two-Thirds of Residents
The recovery plan proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom expands California's Golden State Stimulus payments to include middle class families.
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Spacecraft carrying historic asteroid samples begins journey to Earth
The spacecraft is returning from the asteroid Bennu​, and it marks NASA's first-ever asteroid sample return mission.
Dana White 'had a great conversation' with Nick Diaz about UFC return, still questions desire
"My whole thing with Nick Diaz is I just question how bad he really wants to fight."       Related StoriesMarcos Rogerio de Lima breaks down ground-heavy win over Maurice GreeneUFC on ESPN 24 reactions: Winning and losing fighters on social mediaTriple Take: What's the best non-title fight at UFC 262?
New questions raised over whether Florida gunman could have been stopped
New questions are being raised about whether the gunman in the Florida school shooting could have been stopped after the Broward County sheriff said video shows an armed deputy was stationed outside the school at the time of the shooting. CBS News national correspondent Manuel Bojorquez reports.
WorldView: Deadly school shooting in Russia; Warning shots fired in Strait of Hormuz
A school shooting in Russia has killed at least eight people. Meanwhile, the U.S. military fired warning shots in the Strait of Hormuz, accusing Iranian boats of getting too close to American vessels. CBS News foreign correspondent Ian Lee joined “CBSN AM” with a roundup of today's headlines.
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine rollout in kids could begin within days
The Food and Drug Administration acted on Monday to expand Pfizer-BioNTech’s emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine to include kids ages 12-15.
Funeral held for beloved coach killed in Florida shooting
Aaron Feis, a security guard and assistant football coach, was killed while trying to shield students during the Parkland, Florida school shooting. On Thursday, he was laid to rest.
Stacey Abrams on voting rights and her new legal thriller
Stacey Abrams joins "CBS This Morning" to talk about voting rights and her new legal thriller, "While Justice Sleeps."
Special counsel announces new charges against Manafort, Gates
Special counsel Robert Mueller announced Thursday new charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates. CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman joins CBSN to discuss the new charges and what this could mean for Mueller's investigation.
Caitlyn Jenner reveals whether she voted for Trump in 2020
California Gubernatorial Candidate Caitlyn Jenner tells CNN's Dana Bash that she did not vote in the 2020 election and that she is willing to have former Trump campaign staffers work on her campaign.
Russian efforts in 2016 election were "pro-disruption"
Jim Lewis, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) senior vice president, says that Russian efforts to meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election were "pro-disruption" rather than "pro-Trump" on "The Takeout" podcast with CBS News' Major Garrett..
Director Michael Apted faces allegations of sexual misconduct
Filmmaker Michael Apted is facing allegations of attempted sexual assault from film executive Rhonda Talbot, who says the incident happened in 1985. The Wrap's executive editor Tim Malloy joins CBSN to discuss the accusations.
Gas shortages begin in Southeast after cyberattack shuts down pipeline
Long lines outside have formed outside some gas stations in the Southeast as a result of a cyberattack shut down one of the nation's most important pipelines. CBS News correspondent Laura Podesta joins "CBSN AM" with more on how it could affect you at the pump.
Chase suspect drives truck into L.A. Metro tunnel
Rafael Lopez Jr. is facing multiple criminal charges after officials in Los Angeles say he led police on a wild chase in a stolen truck Feb. 20 before driving the vehicle into an underground Metro tunnel and abandoning it. He was arrested after authorities found him hiding in a closet inside the tunnel. Watch the raw footage.
Rare footage shows chemical attack in Syria
A doctor who treated victims of the attack said it was 'like Judgment Day, the apocalypse.' Scott Pelley reports, Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT
Roku's new Express 4K+ offers excellent streaming — and it's only $40
The $39.99 Roku Express 4K+ is the company's latest gadget that promises improved performance and picture quality, all without putting a hurt on your wallet. It's available to preorder right now with shipments beginning on May 16.
FDA expands emergency use authorization for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15
Nearly 17 million people will soon become eligible to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after the FDA authorized its use for children 12 to 15. Dr. William Gruber, Pfizer's Senior Vice President of Vaccine Clinical Research and Development, joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss vaccine safety and other trials Pfizer is conducting.
Australian Woman Wakes up With New 'Irish Accent' Days After Surgery
Ten days after she had surgery to remove her tonsils, Angie Yen woke up speaking with an Irish accent.
Businessman allegedly shot, killed dog on golf course
A businessman was arrested in Puerto Rico for allegedly shooting and killing a dog that had stolen his ball on a golf course, police said Monday.
LinkedIn's most viewed job postings
Job site LinkedIn analyzed its more than 14 million job postings to find out the most viewed jobs in 2017.
Apple to invest $45 million Corning, makers of glass tech for iPhone 12
Apple announced it will award $45 million to Corning, a manufacturing company which makes a special glass for use on the iPhone 12.
Queen Elizabeth II opens Parliament in low-key ritual, first ceremonial duty since Prince Philip's death
Newly widowed Queen Elizabeth II returned to duty by presiding over the ceremonial State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords.
The Doctors Who Bet Their Patients’ Lives on COVID-19 Test Results
When the third coronavirus surge hit the U.S. last fall, the midwestern states were among the worst affected. Thousands of people in the region were being hospitalized with the virus every day. It was at this inauspicious time that a team of transplant doctors at the University Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, received a pair of healthy-seeming lungs. According to a published case report, the donor had been in an automobile accident, and died from her injuries a few days later. She’d shown no signs of being sick, according to her family, nor had she been knowingly exposed to anyone with COVID-19. A radiologist did find an abnormality in her right lung but chalked it up to damage from the accident. Meanwhile, a nasal swab, taken at the hospital, confirmed her infection status: She was negative.The patient for whom those lungs were meant to be lifesaving—a woman with chronic obstructive lung disease—also tested negative for COVID-19, in a nasal swab taken 12 hours before her surgery. But three days later, the recipient was in severe distress: She was feverish, with plummeting blood pressure, and she experienced such difficulty breathing that she had to be placed on a ventilator. Now she tested positive for the coronavirus. (One of the transplant surgeons, too, would end up sick.)In the weeks that followed, the transplant patient received the best available COVID-19 treatments, including remdesivir and convalescent plasma, but doctors couldn’t save her. Two months after the procedure, she was dead. A reexamination of respiratory fluid taken from her donor before surgery revealed the source of the infection: The transplanted lungs that doctors sewed inside her body had been teeming with the coronavirus.I’m a physician who specializes in diagnostics, so one quirk of my pandemic experience has been getting lots of text messages from my friends about the polymerase chain reaction. PCR is used in laboratories to identify everything from genetic conditions to infections to cancers, though you probably know it as the “gold standard” method for detecting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The friends who texted me had gotten COVID-19 tests, and they wanted help interpreting their results.A COVID-19 test result seems straightforward on its face: You’re either positive or negative. But questions often follow: What if you feel a little sick, but your test has come up empty—can you risk going back to work? Or what if your test is positive, but you feel completely fine—should you repeat it later to confirm that you’ve recovered? How much later? In the early months of the pandemic, I muddled through giving advice to friends based on what was already known about the technology, and on the preliminary data coming out of China. Probably not, I said. Maybe so. A week or two? I couldn’t say very much with certainty.A year later, my colleagues and I have more and better facts to help us through this diagnostic slop. Now we know that a positive result on a PCR test won’t tell you whether you’re currently contagious, but it can say—with 99.9 percent accuracy—that you’ve been infected with SARS-CoV-2. As for false negatives, larger analyses suggest that about one in eight infections could be missed.There’s one specific branch of medicine where even these modest risks of error simply cannot be abided. For the more than 107,000 Americans who are now waiting for an organ transplant—and for those who have already received an organ—the stakes of COVID-19 testing are amplified many times over. It’s easy to understand how a missed infection in a donor could lead to deadly complications for the transplantee, as in the tragedy last fall. But a false-positive result—a COVID-19 case that isn’t real or is long-recovered—may be fatal too, when it delays or prevents an organ from reaching a desperate patient. It’s hard enough for frontline doctors to interpret a surprising test result. For those who work in transplant medicine, decisions made under this uncertainty could be irreversible.“It’s my worst nightmare,” Joshua Lieberman, a pathologist at the University of Washington who works on transplantation testing, said when I asked about the case in Michigan. He was particularly struck by the extent of infection found in the donated lungs. “There’s not a little bit of COVID in there. It is rip-roaringly positive,” he said of the PCR results—“like, a million times more virus” than he usually sees.How could that infection have been missed? Even at the start of the pandemic, we knew that patients could be admitted to a hospital with severe breathing problems but get a negative COVID-19 test result. One very early study, done in China, found that sick patients might test negative in samples taken from the nose, but positive in fluid from the lungs; it’s since been confirmed that a lung sample can catch about 13 percent more infections than a regular, nasopharyngeal swab. That’s why the American Society of Transplantation recommends this form of testing for every lung donation.Still, organ-procurement organizations have held off on mandating this. Not every lab can process fluids from the lung, Lieberman told me, so adding this one requirement might end up reducing patients’ access to a scarce resource. Lifesaving surgeries could be delayed.The problem is that even a very modest COVID-19 infection in a patient who has received a new organ has profound implications, Ajit Limaye, an infectious-disease physician at the University of Washington, told me. Patients who catch the coronavirus around the time of any sort of surgery are at a tripled risk of death. Those who have received new organs are still more susceptible, on account of their being sick enough to need a new organ, and their being on powerful immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection of that organ. One review found that among transplant recipients who became infected with the coronavirus, 81 percent needed to be hospitalized. (That hospitalization rate for the general U.S. population is estimated to be about 5 percent.) Even the usual rule of thumb for how long someone might remain actively infected are thrown out the window for transplant patients. While a case of COVID-19 typically lasts about two weeks, live virus has been recovered from immunosuppressed people more than two months after their initial infection.[Read: The audacious plan to save this man’s life by transplanting his head]But being overcautious about potentially infected donors can be deadly too. There is no safe option for patients in the medically fragile state of organ failure: A recent study found that people waiting for a kidney during the pandemic have been at a 37 percent greater risk of dying than people who were on the list before. Because the queue for kidneys is so long—about 90,000 people—this finding could mean “a substantial number of additional deaths,” the authors wrote. This is the catch-22 of COVID-19. The sickest people, such as those in organ failure, are at risk whether they choose to avoid the health-care system or to interact with it.Medical decisions involving organ donation are made all the more challenging by the time constraints involved. In the hours it takes to sort out an intended transplant recipient’s true infection status after a first, positive result—by repeating the test on a different PCR machine, for example, or scrutinizing how much viral material was detected—an organ may need to be diverted to someone else or discarded entirely. Limaye knows of transplants that have been canceled because doctors didn’t have a quick (enough) way to determine whether a patient’s infection as picked up by PCR actually posed a risk to them or others. Could the test have spotted a case of COVID-19 that was already resolved? Were the doctors willing to bet someone’s life on that presumption?Laboratory experts have developed some helpful ways to pick up false positives and false negatives on COVID-19 tests, from transplant patients and others, too. One thing they look for is an incongruent result. PCR machines check a sample for matches to multiple elements of the virus’s genetic code. When only one of those elements is detected, doctors might repeat the test to make sure it’s accurate. A microbiologist named April Abbott has also pointed out that, in rare cases, a sample’s viral load is so high as to be literally off the charts—and thus invisible to laboratory software. That problem can be solved, she said, by looking at the analyzer’s raw data, not just its automated result.Beyond a few simple improvements, though, there are no easy answers for doctors overseeing transplants. In these situations, a test result may serve as the basis for a life-or-death decision. Taking a careful medical history can help mitigate the risk of misdiagnosis, when combined with a physical examination and the results of other laboratory or imaging studies that have already been performed. Doctors then pull together all of this information to estimate a patient’s “pre-test probability” of infection—how likely they might have been to have COVID-19 before their swabs were sent off for testing. A probability isn’t a certainty, however. The Michigan doctors had been using just this logic when they decided to forgo any further testing on the lung donor: Because her initial swab was negative and she lacked any known symptoms or exposures, they determined that the risk of missing an actual infection was very low.Organs from deceased donors, which make up the majority of transplants in the United States, present a unique challenge for this careful clinical interpretation. Doctors cannot take a medical history from a patient who suffered brain death after a car accident or drug overdose. (In the case of the Michigan donor, the medical history was provided by the family.) Many of these potential donors are young and relatively healthy, so if they had been sick with COVID-19, they’re more likely to have had a mild case—and therefore to have been unaware of it. “They may have never been tested or had any symptoms,” Limaye said. “So we’re left with limited information.”Meanwhile, any positive test result from a deceased donor will probably mean their organs are removed from the system for good. Limaye worries that this “COVID Zero” approach may not be the right one for transplant medicine. There are circumstances, he argues, in which it would be worth the risk to allow an organ donation even from someone with a known infection. (The rules are more relaxed for living donors, who are generally allowed to share their organs three weeks after initial signs of COVID-19, even if follow-up testing still registers as positive.) For example, a patient who may not survive without a rapid transplant could benefit from receiving an organ from a deceased donor who had experienced only a mild or asymptomatic infection. One published case series looked at transplants drawn from six deceased donors who had tested positive for COVID-19 at some point before their death; none ended up transmitting the virus.[Read: Two doctors say it’s far too hard for terminal patients to donate their organs]The complexity of these clinical judgments is likely to persist, even as more Americans are vaccinated. More than half of all U.S. adults have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but transplant patients are in a special group, left to navigate the pandemic with added uncertainty. Studies of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines excluded people who are on immunosuppressive medications, so we don’t yet know how effective the shots might be at preventing illness in an organ recipient. Johnson & Johnson did include some transplant recipients in its clinical trial, but only a handful. One study looked at 658 organ-transplant recipients who had been fully vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and found that only about half of them produced detectable levels of the relevant antibodies—in contrast to nearly 100 percent of healthy people.That’s not the only “data void,” as Limaye describes it, for transplant doctors. They don’t know exactly when it’s safe to transplant an organ after a donor’s positive COVID-19 test, and they don’t know whether some organs from infected donors might be safer to transplant than others (a lung from someone with a respiratory virus might be more dangerous, for example, than a kidney or a liver). Until those gaps in knowledge can be filled with rigorous, unbiased research, doctors can only keep a broad perspective on the stakes involved. What would be the consequences of approaching a test result with too much caution—or with too much chutzpah? Deciding whether it’s more important to guard against false negatives or false positives, as one transplant doctor put it, may be a matter of deciding “what scares you more.”A COVID-19 diagnosis is powerful, and the downstream consequences can’t always be predicted. Diagnostic labels, like medical interventions, may be lifesaving or life-threatening in themselves. It’s likely that more intense screening of transplant patients has prevented other tragedies like the Michigan case, but it may also have cost some people a new organ. Practicing medicine means imperfect answers and inevitable trade-offs. “There’s nothing sacred about COVID tests,” Limaye said. “We’re learning that they have challenges of interpretation, like virtually every single test we do.”
Warren, Sanders Call For Expanding Food Aid To College Students
The Democratic Senators are introducing a bill that would make pandemic-related food benefits for college students permanent, and create grants for colleges to address hunger.
Virginia prosecutor says this Black driver should never have been pulled over
Juanisha Brooks was stopped and arrested by a pair of Virginia State Police officers on March 6. A Virginia prosecutor now says she should never have been pulled over.
Jimmy Kimmel Roasts Matt Gaetz Over Sad Birthday Celebration
The congressman rang in his 39th birthday at The Villages retirement community with Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Trump suggests bonuses for armed, trained teachers
President Trump proposed giving a bonus to armed, trained teachers in an effort to prevent mass shootings. At a White House listening session, he said the idea would be less expensive and more effective than armed guards.
Georgia repeals citizen's arrest law ahead of a federal hearing in the death of Ahmaud Arbery
On the eve of a hearing for three men accused in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, his family witnessed the repeal of a Civil War-era law permitting citizen's arrests in Georgia.
Mom murdered next to baby in Greece by burglars who tied up husband, killed dog
In an abhorrent crime that has shocked the Mediterranean country, the unidentified 20-year-old mom was found beaten and strangled in her attic beside her 11-month-old daughter, police said. Her husband discovered her after managing to free himself.
Bella Hadid, Dua Lipa and the Other Celebs Supporting Palestine Over Israel
Violence is mounting in Jerusalem over the evictions of Palestinians from a neighborhood to make room for Jewish settlers—and a number of celebrities are speaking out.
Texas Gov. Abbott to decide if killer receives clemency from death penalty
Thomas "Bar" Whitaker was sentenced to death for killing his mother and brother, but his father is asking for clemency. Whitaker was scheduled for lethal injection this morning, but now Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will decide his fate.
Margaret Brennan on Face the Nation in 2012
CBS News' Margaret Brennan, who was just named the moderator of Face the Nation, first appeared on the broadcast in 2012
Florida shooting survivors meet with lawmakers, demand action on guns
Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School met with Florida state lawmakers to demand action on gun control. CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz joined CBSN after speaking with many of the students.
Broadway is reopening: See the latest updates on return dates for 'Hamilton,' 'Six' and more shows
Here are the latest re-opening dates for every Broadway show that has announced its post-COVID plans.
Trump clarifies his comments on arming teachers
President Trump took to Twitter to clarify the comments he made yesterday about arming teachers on school campuses. Reuters White House correspondent Ayesha Rascoe joined CBSN with more on the president's stance on guns.
Terrified umpire calls for help after ‘uncomfortable’ moment with Camila Giorgi’s dad
The Italian Open match between Camila Giorgi and Sara Sorribes Tormo was marred by abuse thrown at the umpire by Sergio Giorgi.
How to Buy Kishu Inu, New Crypto Calling Itself 'Dogecoin's Big Brother'
The token is one of many Dogecoin-esque meme coins that have spawned recently, but the founders are often anonymous and an expert has warned Newsweek about the risk.
How to navigate the pandemic-era real estate market
Buying a home for the first time can be complicated, and adding in current pandemic-era market factors like low inventory, low mortgage rates and increasing demand could lead to even more headaches. Daryl Fairweather, a chief economist at the real estate brokerage Redfin, joined "CBSN AM" with tips on how to navigate the competitive market.
California cop killed, another injured while serving search warrant
The officers, one who survived the shooting, who were not immediately identified, were shot late Monday afternoon at an apartment in San Luis Obispo, where the suspected gunman was killed by police.
Seth Rogen talks Kanye West relationship, shrooms trip, oddball fame in new book 'Yearbook'
Looking for a laugh? Seth Rogen's new book, "Yearbook," is out Tuesday, and it features an array of hilarious and surreal anecdotes.
‘Together Together’ Writer & Director Nikole Beckwith Knows You Have a Lot of Feelings About That Ending
Plus, everything you want to know about that effective ending, including how it's "exactly" as she imagined it.
Pence on North Korea: U.S. "doesn't stand with murderous dictatorships"
Vice President Mike Pence spoke about the North Korean regime during his remarks at the CPAC conference for conservative leaders. He slammed the media for "fawning" over Kim Jong Un's sister at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
The real story behind TikTok
The TikTok headquarters in Culver City, California. | VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images Bloomberg business reporter Shelly Banjo explains how a goofy Chinese app took over the world. About nine months ago, it seemed like TikTok’s wild ride might be coming to an end. In August 2020, Trump signed an executive order to effectively ban the app from US stores. Devastated creators filmed emotional eulogies for the platform on which they’d found community and fame, while newly appointed CEO Kevin Mayer quit the role that had curdled into something he’d never signed up for. That same month, Facebook released its copycat product, Instagram Reels, ready and waiting for the demise of its Chinese competitor. But even then, it was clear to those who’d been paying attention that TikTok was never going to go away that easily. By the time of the presidential election, multiple courts had halted the ban, and with a new administration taking over the White House, dealing with the TikTok mess was far from an immediate priority. This August, meanwhile, will mark three years since TikTok launched in the US and became the first-ever Chinese-owned app to fully penetrate the American market — and it’s been an object of fascination, fear, confusion, and joy ever since. As with many companies, the origin story of TikTok is a lot more interesting than the story that TikTok itself likes to tell, and that’s the focus of two feats of reporting from recent weeks. One is Forbes’s feature on the toxicity and intensity of TikTok corporate, particularly over the course of 2020. The other is Bloomberg’s second season of its Foundering podcast, which covers the inside story of TikTok’s rise. Last week, I spoke to its host, Shelly Banjo, who explained how a goofy app called was bought by app giant ByteDance and became the defining platform for a generation. Below, we discuss the inner workings of the TikTok fame machine, the rivalry with Facebook, and the fact that the most common misconception people have about TikTok is that it’s all fun and games. When first launched, people were extremely skeptical. Snapchat had already cornered the teen market, and Vine had totally failed, so short-form video was a tough sell. How did it manage to succeed despite its doubters? I think there are two reasons it succeeded: One is that Vine and others were looking at older teenagers and high schoolers, and what was able to do was get people really young. At the time people called it “the world’s youngest app.” Nobody had created an app for that group, and for good reason, because it can be dangerous for 12-year-olds to go on an app, and 12-year-olds aren’t loyal customers. The second reason is its focus on creators. Alex [Zhu, the founder of] showed a lot of foresight. realized that if they can make their creators famous, then they will be extremely loyal. That continues up until now. Alex created fake usernames to talk to people on []; he would create WeChat groups and convince younger users and their parents to get on WeChat. He would take them and their parents out for dinner and ask them, “What problems are coming up?” and would change things [on the app] on the fly every single day. I just find that so fascinating, a tech CEO literally taking someone out for dinner from the middle of nowhere Alabama to help them be better at I can’t imagine Mark Zuckerberg or Evan Spiegel doing that. At the time, it was unthinkable to Silicon Valley that a Chinese app could become so well-known and well-loved in the US. How did deal with that stigma? When TikTok was, there were all these American investors that had invested in it, and Facebook originally sought to buy them. But then ByteDance, which is a Chinese company, came and bought it, and there was this moment of rebranding, like, “Now we’re an American company, or a global company.” The PR person would call up reporters and be like, “Stop calling us a Chinese company, we’re registered in the Cayman Islands.” They [later] hired an American CEO, Kevin Mayer; they did all these things to show that they weren’t a Chinese company, they just happened to have a founder that lived in China. It sounded like working at ByteDance was … demanding. Can you describe China’s work culture a little bit? I spent a few years in China and worked with a bunch of different tech companies, like Xiaomi, ByteDance, Tencent, and Alibaba. A lot of them are very similar in their “996 culture,” where you’re looking at 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week. But really, it was a 24-hour work culture where you’re expected to answer all the time. You constantly work, and they throw more people at things rather than technology. Compared to the US tech companies, a lot of Chinese tech companies have way more employees because they utilize people more, so it’s very common for people to get burnt out. They’d be working constantly and leave because they couldn’t take it anymore. In August 2018, became TikTok overnight. Again, for the first couple of months, people were still super skeptical — there was this lingering belief that it was just for kids, that it was weird and cringey and embarrassing. How did the tides begin to turn? They spent a ton of money. They would take out these ads on Twitter [and other platforms] where there would be TikTok videos, and inside of them, they would have an install button. So you’d be scrolling through Twitter, and you’d see a TikTok. They were literally siphoning off people from their competitors on Facebook and YouTube. Once you’re No. 1 in the app store for a while, people really start to download you, but then it was still mostly kids. I think a real turning point was the pandemic. It became very mainstream for adults when all the kids were locked at home and had nothing better to do. TikTok also started differentiating and made a push for more creators around food, moms, and different sets of groups because they wanted to increase the age of users. And by “making a push for creators,” you mean literally paying influencers and celebrities to join the app, right? Well, that’s a tricky question. In China, they definitely have had [influencers] on salary. But in the US, what’s more likely to happen is that they will organize a sponsorship with a brand so they can ensure that creators get paid. They might say, “Hey, we want you to do this big live event with us, and we’ll get a sponsor and then that sponsor is going to pay you a million dollars,” or whatever it is. They’re very careful in the US to not necessarily pay directly. It’s a little bit more like, “Let me call you into the TikTok office, we’ll make an account for you and we’ll have someone show you how to do it. We’ll bring you to Charli D’Amelio’s house and you guys can collab and we’ll find a brand for you who will pay all this money.” Everybody gets paid. @keke.janajah NEW DANCE ALERT! if u use my dance tag me so i can see @theestallion #writethelyrics #PlayWithLife #foyou #fyp #foryoupage #newdance #savage ♬ Savage - Megan Thee Stallion The clearest way that this system works definitely seems to be within the music industry. You recently wrote a piece about how TikTok was basically responsible for the success of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage.” I definitely want to be clear that Megan Thee Stallion is an amazingly talented performer and artist, and that we’re not discounting that. What I thought was really interesting was that the record label wanted “Captain Hook” to be the focus track. They thought it was her best song, but the head of music partnerships at TikTok basically said, “No, don’t put that one on there, instead let’s peek into our users’ brains.” There are these secret sound folders on TikTok that every user has, where they save a sound because they want to use it tomorrow or next week. TikTok can see what you’re intending to do in a couple days, so they can almost predict whether a song will go viral. They started seeing that it wasn’t “Captain Hook” that people got into, it was “Savage.” Once they found that information out, they could plan all the marketing around that song, and they could make it so that you saw a “Savage” video come up right away on your For You page. TikTok’s algorithm naturally makes some people uncomfortable because it really does feel like it’s more powerful at getting to know you than anything we’ve seen before. I know this is the million-dollar question, but in your reporting did you get any insight into how the algorithm actually works? It is all speculation, and I think it is constantly changing. We spoke to some AI associates and the former head of AI, and we spoke to some people who handled content moderation. They’re taking hundreds and hundreds of data points about you and figuring out what is going on to keep you on the app and then showing it to you again and again. A lot of that has been done by Twitter and Facebook as well, but it’s just a different velocity. Facebook’s viewpoint is that you care about people and the connections you’ve made, and you want to see things that make you feel more a part of this community. ByteDance has a very different point of view, which is that what you care about has nothing to do with what your friends care about. People complained when their parents got on Facebook, then it no longer became cool. But that doesn’t matter for TikTok, because you’re not seeing the same thing that your parents are, you’re only saying what you want to see. I think that creates a staying power for the app that just doesn’t exist [elsewhere]. What are the biggest misconceptions people have about TikTok? I think the biggest misconception is that TikTok is this ephemeral, fun, authentic place where everyone can be themselves. These creators, as you know, work so hard. It’s their job; they will sit there for hours and hours making 15-second videos that appear fun and authentic. Young kids are on the app and they’re seeing these really well-produced things that they might not necessarily be able to do, and then they’re holding themselves up to that standard. You speak to these kids that are spending five hours a night on the app and this is their worldview, and it’s all manufactured. How is it really affecting the people who are using it? I don’t really know the answer to that. It could be all fine. But it does worry me. As soon as TikTok took off, there was panic about how all these kids are on this app owned by China. To some extent, it’s a reasonable concern, but do you get the sense that users are in any sort of danger? When you talk to 15-year-olds, they’re like, “Oh, everybody’s taking your data. Facebook’s taking my data, Google’s taking my data, like, I’m totally fine with that. I know the contract: I give you my data, I get this app for free.” But the fact is that TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, and the Chinese government has a law on their books that they can require all tech companies to give over their data. TikTok says it hasn’t given any data to the Chinese government, but we don’t know if that means they’ll never give any data in the future, because it’s really impossible to argue over something that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe they are creating an entire database of hundreds of millions of teenagers that eventually one day will end up in the hands of the Chinese government, but we don’t know. Tiktok obviously denies any such thing, but the person in charge of TikTok today might not be in charge of TikTok tomorrow, because in China they can just take over your company. What’s the future of TikTok now that Trump isn’t explicitly threatening its demise? I think that they are trying to keep a low profile politically. It’s hard to tell, because I don’t think anyone expected what Trump did to begin with. I do think that they’re going to continue to grow. They’re getting into e-commerce now, which I think could be huge for them. People in this industry still today are asking the question, “Is TikTok just a fad?” To me that’s crazy, because it’s this huge, mega-company that’s the most downloaded app, it’s gotten people like Mark Zuckerberg scared, their parent company is about to IPO. The idea that it’s just like Vine, that it could fade away tomorrow, is crazy. This column first published in The Goods newsletter. Sign up here so you don’t miss the next one, plus get newsletter exclusives.
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