Business February 1, 2023
Elon Wants A Twitter For Everything, Pushes The Payments Button
Elon Musk is forging ahead with plans to turn Twitter into a payment platform and compete with Apple Pay and PayPal with the company reported to have started the licensing processes in the US.
Payments could be another way for Twitter to generate revenue, by enabling transactions between users, from which it would then take a small percentage.
However, the process is expected to take long, to get regulatory approvals.
Also read: Hiroshima Adopts Metaverse in Education
The social media platform company is hoping to complete the licensing process in the US within a year. Thereafter, Twitter will likely try getting regulatory approvals needed to expand internationally.
According to the Financial Times report which cites people close to the company’s plans, Musk wants users to be able to purchase stuff on Twitter as well as send money to each other.
The system, according to the report, will be based on fiat, although crypto functionality might be added at a later stage.
Already, Twitter is working on a system that allows users to award creators. These new features will need the company to satisfy regulatory checks, and the Financial Times says its already registered with the US Treasury as a payments processor. Furthermore, the company has also started applying for the necessary regulatory licenses in the US.
Is Elon Musk replicating WeChat?
According to a New York Times report, Musk told Twitter investors that his goal was to see Twitter bring in about $1,3 billion in payment revenues by 2028.
His broader plans are for a more functional app, which would replicate the utility of China’s WeChat, which is used by Chinese for everything from ordering groceries, to buying public transport tickets and bill payments.
The platform has become an important element, that it formed a key part of China’s Covid 19 response. Authorities used the app as means to manage people who tested positive for the pandemic and restrict their movement.
Since he purchased the social media platform for $44 billion, Musk has wanted to bring payments to Twitter, even before he owned the company, returning to the firebrand entrepreneur to payments industry where his story began. Ever since his October acquisition, a flurry of filings points to imminent plans to introduce embedded payments across service.
Payments could be the olive branch
Since his takeover, advertisers have been leaving the platform on concerns over content moderation and related issues.
Ad revenues have been in the range of $5 billion a year, but the platform was widely reported to have lost up to half its advertising commitments by November.
NPR wrote that “Chevrolet, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., Ford, Jeep, Kyndryl, Merck & Co. and Novartis AG all issued statements about halting Twitter ads or were reported and confirmed as doing so,” adding their names to a longer list of advertiser defections.
Andrew Hutchinson, a content and social media manager writes that the plan could give Twitter the much needed revenue boost.
After Musk implemented cost-cutting measures that resulted in a 70% reduction in Twitter staff, the company could be on track to potentially break even this year or close. Hutchinson however says a lot has to go right to get the platform back on track.
“And with advertisers continuing to back away from Twitter spend, it’s not looking good, while subscriptions to Twitter Blue are unlikely to provide much relief, at least at this stage,” said Hutchinson.
“As such, the shift into payments can’t come fast enough, though it’ll still be some time before we see the possibility of in-app payments,” Hutchinson added.
Musk is an early platform payments innovator who formed the online bank X.com in 1999, which, through a sequence of events, became the first version of PayPal in 2001.
Europol Sounds Alarm on ChatGPT in New Report
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) is warning that criminals are already bending ChatGPT to nefarious purposes.
The report titled ChatGPT: The impact of Large Language Models on Law Enforcement was released by the agency on Monday. It details a myriad of ways that ChatGPT can be turned into criminality. The agency has criminal use cases of ChatGPT
The criminal university
One of the concerns of Europol is that ChatGPT and other bots can speed up the process of a criminal’s education.
“If a potential criminal knows nothing about a particular crime area, ChatGPT can speed up the research process significantly by offering key information that can then be further explored in subsequent steps,” says the crime enforcement agency.
“While all of the information ChatGPT provides is freely available on the internet, the possibility to use the model to provide specific steps by asking contextual questions means it is significantly easier for malicious actors to better understand and subsequently carry out various types of crime,” they add.
Europol cites burglary, terrorism, cybercrime, and child sexual abuse as potential areas of exploration. These identified use cases emerged from workshops and research carried out by the agency.
The social engineer’s friend
Europol also reports that ChatGPT is an “extremely useful tool for phishing purposes.”
In particular, Europol has concerns that with the aid of ChatGPT, scammers’ deceptive communications can become far more authentic.
“In the case of mass-produced campaigns, targets of these types of crime would often be able to identify the inauthentic nature of a message due to obvious spelling or grammar mistakes or its vague or inaccurate content,” says Europol. “With the help of LLMs, these types of phishing and online fraud can be created faster, much more authentically, and at significantly increased scale.”
This echoes similar warnings from cybersecurity firms including Norton, who also identified the potential of ChatGPT to empower scammers.
Coding for cybercrime
Another area highlighted by Europol is coding, as ChatGPT makes it easy for someone with little or no programming knowledge to begin creating basic code. Whereas previously a criminal would have had to have some expert knowledge, ChatGPT lowers the barriers to almost anyone. Levering a chatbot someone can easily set up a phishing page online or create a malicious VBA script for office tools including Excel and Word.
The only issue for users with criminal intent is sidestepping the safeguards within ChatGPT. Europol points out that these safeguards are not foolproof.
“Critically, the safeguards preventing ChatGPT from providing potentially malicious code only work if the model understands what it is doing,” says Europol.
As countless users have shown, those internal safeguards are less than foolproof.
Getting around protections
As MetaNews reported earlier this month, ChatGPT users have probed adroit at sidestepping the safeguards within the system. This is commonly referred to as jailbreaking the bot, to free it from the prison of its ethics codes.
Jailbreaking is not the only option for those who wish to avoid the guardrails of ChatGPT. While the online version of the bot may be limited by ethics codes and restrictions, a private version of the application would not have those same boundaries. Earlier this month AI and neural network expert Brian Roemmele demonstrated that it was possible to create an LLM that worked from a local computer.
As for ChatGPT the technology does not stand still, something that Europol is acutely aware of. The agency is now warning that GPT-4 could make policing even more challenging.
“GPT-4, the latest release, has already made improvements over its previous versions and can, as a result, provide even more effective assistance for cybercriminal purposes,” they said.
TikTok US Ban Threatens Small Businesses, Creators and Entertainment Industry
China-owned video-sharing platform TikTok is on the verge of a nationwide ban in the United States. A possible ban will force more than 150 million users in the United States to uninstall the app, which will also affect 5 million small businesses and content creators.
TikTok has transformed from a social platform for content creators to a major entertainment force that has disrupted Hollywood and changed the entertainment industry.
Also Read: Congressman Says TikTok Ban Won’t Ensure Americans’ Data Safety
A ban on TikTok now could have dire consequences for not just the app’s biggest stars and small businesses, but also for movie studios, record labels, casting directors, agents, and actors, who would need to drastically change their business practices.
TikTok has not transformed from a dancing and lip-syncing video sharing app into something more, a platform that amplifies unheard voices.
“TikTok is the most democratized content platform we’ve ever had and it has revolutionized Hollywood,” said Adam Faze, studio chief of entertainment studio FazeWorld.
The consequences of a TikTok ban
TikTok has provided an opportunity for individuals who were previously excluded from the media and entertainment industry to bypass conventional gatekeepers and enter the industry.
“I see TikTok as the old days of free network TV … Taking it away would go back to an era where we’re relying on legacy media brands and what Hollywood wants us to watch, because they’re the only ones who can afford a marketing budget to find an audience,” said Faze.
According to a recent survey by The Washington Post, TikTok’s user base comprises a greater proportion of young and non-white individuals.
TikTok’s audience is younger, more diverse, and has lower incomes compared to other social media platforms. 53% of non-white adults and 59% of Americans ages 18–34 use TikTok. People with lower incomes and without college degrees are also more likely to use TikTok, the survey shows.
Faze produced successful TV shows for TikTok, including “Keep the Meter Running” which became an instant hit, reaching millions of viewers.
The studio chief revealed that while shooting an episode in London, the production team were chased down the street by young fans of the show, due to its success on TikTok.
Reaching users at scale
Alex Sanger, executive vice president of global digital marketing at Universal Pictures, says the company heavily relies on TikTok for movie marketing.
TikTok is the bridge to “reach basically everyone at scale” for the company, he explained.
“We use it as an awareness builder, we use it to drive deeper engagement with our IP, and we use it further down the funnel to convert people into moviegoers.”
It’s natural to wonder what happens when that awareness builder is no longer available.
TikTok a ‘discovery mechanism’ for record labels
Despite its growing popularity, TikTok is facing accusations of sharing users’ personal data with the Chinese government, which has led to a possible ban in the United States.
The crackdown has got the music and entertainment industries worried.
Tatiana Cirisano of Midia Research, an entertainment industry consultancy, warned that a TikTok ban would majorly disrupt the music industry.
“This isn’t just about artists losing a tool, this is a major discovery mechanism for major labels themselves, the [potential ban] is more important and more related to their bottom line than you might think,” said Cirisano.
The way “artists are marketed and introduced” to the public is also changing.
“TikTok is something the music industry has been relying on to help solve some of those challenges over the past couple of years,” argues Cirisano.
TikTok has also become a source of revenue, with the industry generating revenue from licensing deals on tracks played on the social media app.
Blurred entertainment lines
Bill Rosenblatt, President of GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies, puts the music industry among the many business contemplating how a potential TikTok ban could affect their bottom line.
don’t ban tiktok! it might force the music industry to invest in artist development again, thus creating sustainable, project-focused artists instead of annoying one hit wonders !!!! pic.twitter.com/CY2HMJXLGl
— Thomston (@ThomstonMusic) March 24, 2023
“Although entertainment is the largest content category of TikTok videos by a wide margin, it’s not known how much of that is specifically related to music,” stated Rosenblatt.
Rosenblatt noted that the categories within “entertainment” are blurred on TikTok, with many users getting famous through lip-syncs, dance routines, or videos set to someone else’s music. However, only a small number of users are artists who distribute or promote their own music on the app.
To understand the impact on the music industry if TikTok disappears from the US market, it helps to understand the effect it’s had on the business thus far, explained Rosenblatt.
A potential ban on TikTok in the US could have significant consequences for not only its users, but also for the entertainment and music industries that have come to rely on the platform for marketing and revenue.
It remains to be seen how this situation will develop and what the ultimate outcome will be.
Twitter Poll Eligibility Limited to Verified Accounts From April 15, Says Musk
Twitter will be implementing a major change in its recommendation system, Elon Musk has announced. Starting from April 15, only verified accounts will be eligible to appear in For You recommendations.
In a tweet, Musk said the change “is the only realistic way to address advanced AI bot swarms taking over. Otherwise it is a hopeless losing battle.”
Also Read: Experts Say Twitter’s 2FA Policy Change ‘Doesn’t Make Sense’
Twitter is continuing to make changes to its policies following Musk’s $44 billion takeover last October.
The latest announcement follows last week’s removal of the status of some legacy accounts on the micro-blogging site. Twitter has also introduced paid subscription for blue ticks and other additional features, including an edit option for tweets.
Verified voting rights
Along with the “For You” page, the company is altering its policy on voting in polls.
“Voting in polls will require verification for same reason,” stated Musk.
The big boss previously said that paid verification significantly increases the cost of using bots and makes it easier to identify them.
“That said, it’s ok to have verified bot accounts if they follow the terms of service and don’t impersonate a human,” clarified Musk in the same thread.
However, the announcement has been questioned by some users.
“Is it OK for humans to impersonate bots?” asked Nick Percoco, Chief Security Officer at Kraken.
Recouping $42 billion?
A large number of Twitter users have criticized the change.
“Discouraging people from using your website by trying to shake them down for cash to use a site that’s been free its entire existence is definitely a smart strategy for recouping your $42 billion,” stated Zack Hunt.
Hunt said he realized “why some people think you’re a business genius.”
“For anyone who wants to stay on Twitter, this is a good time to make a list of your favorite users and use it as your primary feed now that For You will be all Twitter Blue junk! Otherwise you’ll never be shown tweets you actually want to see,” tweeted Ella Dawson.
In another response, Zerry Rig expressed uncertainty regarding the overlap between two groups of people: those willing to pay $8 to the richest man alive, and those who create interesting content.
“I’m not sure the venn diagram of people willing to pay 8 bucks to the richest man alive and the people who make interesting content overlap very much,” stated Rig.
I genuinely owe Elon such a debt for his tireless work breaking my addiction to the bad website https://t.co/MOlJpyHlL9
— Andrew Egger (@EggerDC) March 28, 2023
Twitter user Rita Panahi criticized the platform’s recent bot-eliminating exercise, stating that she would have been more convinced if legacy verified accounts weren’t being compelled to pay.
It remains to be seen how Twitter’s new policy will work. Perhaps we’ll just have to wait until it goes live.
LinkedIn’s New AI Tool to Improve User Profiles and Job Descriptions
TikTok US Ban Threatens Small Businesses, Creators and Entertainment Industry
ChatGPT Bug Exposes Users Details, Causes Outage of Over 10 Hours
Twitter Competitor Koo Targets More Users With ChatGPT Integration
AI Poses a Threat to Democracy, Experts Warn
AI Revolution in Music Production: Kanye West and Beyond
Google Launches ‘Bard’ in UK and US for Public Testing
AIThu 30 Mar 2023 15:00 GMT
Will Decentralized Digital ID Curb AI Threats in Web3 and Metaverse?
AIThu 30 Mar 2023 11:59 GMT
Human Immortality Just 8 Years Away, Claims ex-Google Engineer
AIThu 30 Mar 2023 08:59 GMT
Goldman Sachs Report Warns AI Could Impact 300 Million Jobs
GovernanceWed 29 Mar 2023 22:50 GMT
US VPN Users Face 20-Year Prison Terms Under TikTok Bill
CryptocurrenciesWed 29 Mar 2023 20:20 GMT
The Sandbox Unites with Ledger to Boost Metaverse Security
AIWed 29 Mar 2023 15:15 GMT
AI-Based Cybersecurity Assistant Unveiled by Microsoft
AIWed 29 Mar 2023 12:45 GMT
Everyone Can Now Use Runway’s Gen-1 Text-to-Video AI Tool: Here’s How
AIWed 29 Mar 2023 09:18 GMT
Baidu Changes Direction, Showcases Ernie Chatbot to Select Firms