This has certainly raised some eyebrows among social media and privacy analysts.
Today, TikTok has started showing users in Europe, the UK and Switzerland new, in-app notifications informing them of changes to its data collection policies.
As you can see in these examples, shared by social media expert Matt NavarraTikTok is changing the way it uses people’s data within its ad targeting systems.
More specifically, TikTok explains that:
“If you are 18 or over and in the EEA, the UK, or Switzerland, TikTok is making a legal change to how it will use your on-TikTok activity to personalize your ads. Under applicable data protection law, companies like TikTok must have a legal basis for processing your information. Historically, TikTok asked you for your “consent” to use your on-TikTok activity and off-TikTok activity to serve you personalized ads. From 13 July 2022 TikTok will rely on its “legitimate interests” as its legal basis to use on-TikTok activity to personalize the ads of users who are 18 or over.”
Note the inverted commas around ‘consent’. Seems like a red flag in itself.
Essentially, TikTok’s saying that if you have not consented to personalized ads in the past, which TikTok has to allow as part of the EU’s data privacy provisions, you’ll soon get a form of personalized ads anyway, based on your in-app activity. TikTok appears to be looking to use a technicality to maximize the performance of its ads, even among users who have opted out of personalized targeting.
Which is not surprising, I guess, but it does point to the increasing pressure within TikTok to start making real money from the app – which could result in more ads being shown to users over time.
While Twitter remains in ownership limbo, and Meta is diverting more and more of its resources into its metaverse push, it seems, on the face of it, like TikTok is currently the only platform on a clear upward trajectory, with usage counts rising, more ad dollars coming in, and new programs designed to capitalize on the rise of eCommerce and the Creator Economy.
TikTok, at least right now, is the clear winner in the social media sphere are present, right?
Well, maybe not as much as you’d think.
In recent months, TikTok owner ByteDance has faced a range of new challenges, including, most notably, a change in the regulations relating to data and algorithm usage in China.
As per The South China Morning Post:
“As with many Chinese tech companies, ByteDance’s prospects for profit growth in the domestic market remain clouded by tightened regulations. The central government has become more intrusive in regulating short video content. A new law governing the use of recommendation algorithms went into effect in March.”
CCP regulators, increasingly frustrated at their inability to reign in content within these apps, have sought to exert more control, which has extended to all of ByteDance’s key income sources.
That increased regulatory scrutiny has already wiped $100 billion from the value of ByteDance, forcing the company to consider sell-offs, staff cuts and more as it works to right the ship.
That pressure has also extended to TikTok, which, aside from these new data usage changes, has also been looking to enforce more China-centric style policies in terms of what’s expected of employees, and the content that it allows in the app.
ByteDance executive Joshua Ma, who had been working with TikTok’s UK eCommerce teamwas recently forced to stand down after trying to impose tough working conditions on staff, in order to hasten its expansion.
As reported by The Financial Times:
“The launch of TikTok’s livestream shopping feature in the UK triggered a staff exodus from the London ecommerce team. Some staff complained of an aggressive company culture, with unrealistic targets and expectations that run counter to British working practices. Staff said they were expected to frequently work more than 12 hours a day, starting early to accommodate calls with China and ending late as livestreams were more successful in the evening, with overtime celebrated in internal communications. Some members of the ecommerce team were removed from client accounts after going on annual leave.”
Ma has also stated that he ‘doesn’t believe’ in maternity leave, which was also reported by The Financial Times, and which, incidentally, led to another issue on the content side, with TikTok then reportedly considering a move to censor keywords such as ‘Financial Times’, ‘Joshua Ma’, ‘maternity’, and ‘toxic’ on the platform in order to weaken the Financial Times report’s impact.
TikTok says that this ban was never implemented, but it highlights a fundamental concern within TikTok’s approach, in that a first instinct of at least some execs was to seek to silence criticism and dissent.
And you’d have to assume that at least some of this extends from the pressure being exerted on the company’s Beijing HQ.
How this new data usage policy relates is unclear, but with TikTok still only contributing around a third of ByteDance’s overall revenue, despite its global reach, you can imagine that ByteDance will be increasingly keen to squeeze more cash out of the app – and sooner, rather than later.
Which remains a challenge. ByteDance has seen big revenue success with the Chinese version of TikTok (called ‘Douyin’) by implementing eCommerce integrations, primarily driven by the take up of live-stream commerce in China.
According to ByteDance, over 20 million individual content creators and live-streaming hosts are now generating income from its apps, with total live shopping revenue in the Chinese market set to reach $423 trillion this year. That’s more than the entire GDP of Ireland.
But the CCP’s crackdown is also impacting this element, with a bigger push to catch out influencers that haven’t been fulfilling their tax burden, which has already impacted many local streaming stars.
Add to this the fact that more brands are reconsidering their relationships with streamers (due to influencers demanding ever-more attractive deals), and the signs indicate that a reckoning is coming for the booming sector, which will again impact ByteDance.
It’s also not great for its push on the same with TikTok. Despite its popularity, TikTok is still developing a more equitable business process, especially in regards to ensuring its top stars get paid. TikTok’s expected to bring in around $11.6 billion in ad revenue this year, but it still doesn’t have an effective means to redistribute that to creators, which could, eventually, see many of them drift off to YouTube and Instagram instead.
TikTok is working on this, as noted, but a key focus, as it has been in China, is live-stream commerce, which it’s hoping will become a golden goose in western regions as well. But it hasn’t yet, and many Chinese trends haven’t translated to other markets in the past – and it could well be that TikTok creators just want to get paid for making videos, which they can’t do on TikTok, but they can through YouTube’s Partner Program.
Could that see more creators losing interest in the platform, and taking their audiences with them? That’s what eventually killed off Vine, and it remains a genuine possibility for TikTok as well. Which is why TikTok is desperate to get back into India, where it’s still banned, while it’s also looking to implement more ad options and tools to maximize its revenue intake while it can.
Essentially, when viewed on a broader scope, you can see how the increasing pressure on ByteDance is weighing on TikTok as well, and will likely force it to push forward with various revenue tools, including more ads, which poses a big risk for its growth potential.
That’s not to say TikTok’s on the way out just yet. Far from it, but there are signs there, and there are concerns that you may not recognize when looking at its growth numbers in isolation.
Maybe there are ways around it – maybe TikTok could get sold off and operate as a separate entity, or maybe its commerce options will be a hit and facilitate bigger business opportunities for the app.
Either way, you can expect to see more changes in the app as the pressure mounts on its parent business.
Before the health crisis, shared offices where all employees of the same company worked together flourished everywhere. ‘Open spaces’, designed to promote communication in the workplace, however show their limits and some fiercely oppose this workspace layout. The health crisis and its various confinements have forced open spaces to adapt.
The OpinionWay survey for Take a Desk, conducted from January 4 to 7, 2022 with a representative sample of 1,066 office workers in companies with 20 employees. It reveals that French respondents are in favor of the idea of sharing their offices with other people (employees, entrepreneurs, liberal professions, etc.) outside the company, but also the opportunity to revitalize the workspace, to create new synergies. Thus, for more than 8 out of 10 office workers (86%), the opportunity to meet new people is an important reason and 79% mention an effective way to promote exchanges and share skills. In this sense, welcoming new employees from outside the company is seen as a real way to develop interactions and social bonds.
Proximity to home?
It should be noted that more than two-thirds of respondents (77%) mention the usefulness of having an accessible office close to home. A way for 8 out of 10 employees to reduce their daily commute time and reduce the impact of stress and fatigue related to commuting between work and home.
Other advantages are well perceived and mentioned, such as the way to break the monotony for 66% of those surveyed –a perception felt above all by men (70%) compared to 62% of women–, the possibility of working in more large (62%). , more modern (73%) or face-to-face (56%). The pandemic will not have overcome the need to live together, quite the opposite.
Multiple uses of “open spaces”
What is the reality? The common workspaces are organized in a simple way: all the offices of the employees, whatever their hierarchical position, are juxtaposed and all the members of the company work together. This type of arrangement has spread and is found in different structures. Small businesses, startups, and other VSEs, for example, often turn to coworking spaces. These shared workplaces bring together several companies, whether or not they belong to the same sector. Most often they are presented in the form of open spaces, where all offices are arranged in the same room or even separated by thin partitions. Very practical, these places provide coworkers with desks, chairs, printers and Wi-Fi access, upon arrival, so they can work comfortably. This solution seems ideal: a single invoice and, in principle, a pleasant environment where agents from different backgrounds meet.
On the other hand, some large companies also organize their premises in open spaces. All employees are grouped in one place, branch by branch. The offices of each are linked and have everything they need on site, so employees have to travel as little as possible. Shared workspaces therefore appear to be a practical arrangement for the workers who use them.
A shared workspace to break down barriers
Meeting in a space without partitions brings employees together and centralizes resources. This operation represents, in fact, a phenomenal time saver for leaders: all their employees face them and it is difficult for them to escape. A question can be answered in seconds since the person is in front of them. In the UK, this workspace arrangement is very popular: 80% of English offices would take the form of shared offices. These save time, improve communication, but also save space and better control everyone’s activities. A study by researchers Jungsoo Kim and Richard de Dear stated in the Journal of Environmental Psychology: “The argument for open space promoting enthusiasm and productivity appears to have no academic basis… This observation means that if employees appreciate this type of space, it has not been tested.There is also research that goes in this direction.Scientists from the American University of Cornell have shown that this type of arrangement would generate more stress among employees.
Some disadvantages that rhyme with “open space”
These common offices have the advantage of putting everything in place, equipment and employees. Except that among the latter, some might not support the concept. It’s still very convenient to have everything available, but being glued to your colleagues all day can be a stress factor. If team members know each other well, it can be nice, but more reserved collaborators can feel a bit squeezed or even watched. Ordinary workspaces also retain a reputation for being noisy places where it can sometimes be difficult to concentrate. The socio-economist and research director of the CNRS, Alain Iribarne, summarizes these considerations: “Managers raise the myth of “project work” and “harmonious and creative cooperation”, but open-space can be pathogenic, (… .), facilitates surveillance and competition between employees, a stress factor that often leads to the opposite of the desired goal, with employees isolating themselves by wearing headphones or hiding behind mountains of files or green plants…”
Who really benefits from this type of arrangement?
The debate about open spaces and other shared offices has been going on for several years. Some praise its merits while others dispute it. Therefore, one wonders who has more interest in adopting this mode of operation. Several elements mentioned above can put us in the way: being directly in front of your employees allows you to keep an eye on their activity and increase productivity. This method also improves communication between team members, all positioned next to each other. The protesters respond that their privacy is being undermined by this design in which they feel spied on. Convenient for managers, irritating for some employees, it would seem that business leaders are the main beneficiaries of these types of spaces. Sociologist Thérèse Evette confirms this hypothesis by pointing out that “open spaces are both the design most valued by managers and the most questioned by employees”. Without falling into the dramatic scenario in which the employees go crazy and the bosses continue to be tyrannical, it is still possible to set up a common office so that it is not too invasive for the employees while maintaining the advantage of proximity to others.
Some tips to make a shared office less stuffy
Constantly working under the gaze of your superiors is obviously a stress factor. However, there are some simple gestures to make this situation less oppressive. The need to take breaks is still important, cutting off contact, visually, soundly, with employees for a few minutes can do a lot of good. Setting up a small personal space on your desk is also motivating, place a few pictures that remind you of good memories or personal objects that can comfort you. To reduce the pressure on employees constantly watched by their superiors, it is also necessary to show them that these same leaders are still human! Recruit your team, organize afterworks, collective lunches, so that they don’t feel supervised only by chefs, but above all by other people.