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TikTok to add Election Day resources, live results from AP to its election guide

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TikTok announced this morning it will expand the set of resources provided in its in-app election guide in the U.S. to include direct access to sites that help users get information about polling locations and hours, those that help people having voting difficulties, and those offering other details how the voting process works, and more. TikTok also said it’s working with the Associated Press (AP) to provide access to an interactive map showing live results for both federal and state elections, as well as ballot initiatives, in the updated guide.

This map will be updated with live results starting on Election Day, so TikTok users can check it at any time from within the app to get the most current information.

In addition to the AP, the expanded election guide will include FAQs from the National Association of Secretaries of State about the voting process itself. This section helps to explain details that may be new to TikTok’s younger user base — many who voted for the first time in this election. This information, which is summarized in the app, includes how election results are compiled and what to expect during the counting process.

Image Credits: TikTok

TikTok will also link out to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) website for information about polling locations and hours.

And it will link to the Election Protection Hotline number which provides assistance with voting difficulties in English, Spanish, Asian languages, and Arabic, as well as a video call option for American Sign Language.

Image Credits: TikTok

The election guide was first introduced in the TikTok app last month to help connect TikTok’s 100 million U.S. users to partner organizations that offered information about the candidates, how to vote, media literacy and more. At launch, the guide included information from the National Association of Secretaries of StateBallotReadySignVote and several others.

The information is organized in an easy-to-read format, but TikTok itself is not creating the content — it’s pulled from partners and cited accordingly. In other cases, TikTok offers a short snippet of information with a link to the partner site to “learn more.”

TikTok users are today pointed to the guide by way of a banner that appears across all election-related videos. They can also choose to visit it directly from TikTok’s Discover Page, where it has a permanent home during election season.

With the update, if users encounter videos about the elections — for example, if a video discusses the current results — the user could tap the link to see the AP’s live election map. This could be useful because TikTok’s in-feed videos aren’t always the most recent.

Image Credits: TikTok

TikTok has been building up its election-related resources for months. This summer, it announced expanded partnerships with PolitiFact and Lead Stories to fact check misinformation related to the 2020 U.S. election in its app, in addition to their work helping with misinformation related to COVID-19, climate change and other topics.

It also claimed to be working with experts, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to protect against foreign influence on its platform. And it banned deepfakes.

Like other social media platforms, TikTok said it isn’t accepting political ads. However, unlike Facebook and Google, which only committed to temporary pauses on these ads before and after election day, TikTok announced its decision in October 2019, explaining that the nature of political ads didn’t fit with the experience its users expect on its platform.

Ahead of today’s news about the expanded election guide, TikTok also launched an Election Safety Center to increase transparency about how its policies apply to a range of election-related content, including when and why content is removed.

While it’s common for a large tech platform to offer election-related resources to its user base — Facebook, Google, Snapchat and Twitter all do the same — TikTok’s position is unique. The app is currently trying to fight off the Trump administration’s ban of its app in the U.S., and its long-term fate in the country is still unknown.

Despite these issues, TikTok has not slowed on developing new features, adding resources, or expanding its platform in other ways. Just yesterday, for example, TikTok announced a partnership with Shopify over social commerce initiatives.

TikTok’s new election guide resources will roll out on Nov. 3 in the U.S.

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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The Trump administration will add SMIC, China’s largest chipmaker, to its defense blacklist: report

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SMIC, one of largest chip makers in the world, is among several companies that the Department of Defense plans to designate as being owned or controlled by the Chinese military, reports Reuters. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order, set to go into effect on January 11, that would bar U.S. investors from buying securities from companies on the defense blacklist.

In a statement to Reuters, SMIC said it continues “to engage constructively and openly with the U.S. government” and that it “has no relationship with the Chinese military and does not manufacture for military end-users or end-uses.”

The largest semiconductor maker in China, SMIC holds about 4% of the worldwide foundry market, estimates market research firm TrendForce. Its U.S. customers have included Qualcomm, Broadcom and Texas Instruments.

There are currently 31 companies on the defense blacklist. SMIC is one of four new companies that the Department of Defense plans to add, according to Reuters. The others are China Construction Technology, China International Engineering Consulting Corp and China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC).

The company delisted from NYSE in May 2019, but it said that the decision was prompted by the limited trading volume and high administrative costs, not the U.S.-China trade war or the U.S. government’s blacklisting of Huawei and other Chinese tech companies.

SMIC has already been impacted by export restrictions that prevent them from purchasing key equipment from American suppliers. At the beginning of October, it told shareholders that export restrictions set by the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security could have “material adverse effects” on its production.

The executive order, and the possible addition of new companies to the defense blacklist, is in-line with the Trump administration’s hard stance against Chinese tech companies, including Huawei, ZTE and ByteDance, that it claims are a potential national security threat through their alleged ties to the Chinese government and military. But the future of a lot of the current administration’s policies after the Joe Biden assumes the presidency on January 20 is uncertain.

TechCrunch has contacted SMIC for comment.

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Primer, the fintech helping merchants consolidate the payments stack, raises £14M Series A

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Primer, the U.K. fintech that wants to help merchants consolidate their payments stack and easily support new payment methods in the future, has raised £14 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Accel, who I understand were quite proactive in persuading Primer to take the VC firm’s money.

The young company wasn’t actively fund-raising, having quietly raised £3.8 million in funding announced in May. Instead, the team was heads down building out the product and wooing potential customers by holding technical workshops and in-depth interviews over Zoom with 100 merchants — activity that didn’t go unnoticed.

Also participating in the Series A are existing investors: Balderton, SpeedInvest and Seedcamp, who were joined in the round by new backer RTP Global. Sonali De Rycker, partner at Accel, will join Primer’s board.

Founded by ex-PayPal employees – via PayPal’s acquisition of Braintree — Primer wants to offer one payments API to (hopefully) rule them all, with the explicit aim of bringing greater transparency to a merchant’s payment stack.

The thinking is that larger merchants, especially those that operate in more than one geography, have to support an array of payment methods, which brings with it significant technical overhead, a poor user experience, and lack of transparency.

Primer, now described as a “low code” platform, carries out a lot of that heavy-lifting on behalf of merchants and while remaining steadfastly payment method agnostic. By doing so, the idea is to reduce friction when adopting new payment methods as they come to market, and be able to provide better insights into things like how well each checkout option is performing.

As well as payment-service-providers (PSPs), the platform has connectors for fraud providers, chargeback services, subscription billing engines, BI tools, loyalty and rewards platforms. Both payments and non-payments services can be “seamlessly connected to the checkout experience and payments flow via workflows, enabling merchants to unify their fraud migration efforts, build sophisticated transaction routing, and solve complex flows – all with no code,” explains Primer.

Primer says the additional funding will be used for international business development and scaling its team. Billed as a remote-first company, Primer has 23 employees across six countries, and says it has already picked up traction across mid-market and large enterprise e-commerce merchants across Europe.

Comments Paul Anthony, Primer’s co-founder and head of product and engineering: “During our time at PayPal, we saw first-hand the technical burden online merchants face trying to offer the best payments experiences to their customers globally. Our low-code approach enables merchants’ payments teams to manage and expand their payments ecosystems, and maintain sophisticated payments logic with a familiar workflow UI”.

Meanwhile, the new investment brings Primer’s total funding to £17.8 million, and comes only a few weeks after the initial launch of the company’s platform.

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Gillmor Gang: Electrical Banana

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Thanks I’m giving for the start of the first big online season. Yes, the pandemic has put in place a gigantic move to the digital for our immediate and accelerated future. We all know how this plays out in the required state of things pre-vaccine. But there’s an undercurrent not so hidden there of a dynamic answer to my wife’s stubborn question: Where’s my Jetpack?

She’s a child of the 60s, a post-Beatles time of imploding dreams and dashed expectations. James Bond got to fly a Jetpack, but the telltale burned gasoline exhaust made the effect an artifact of what wasn’t going to happen. In an electric decade and noise-canceling AirPods, maybe it’s more likely to surface than not, but if so, what’s the next Jetpack?

My vote is for the electric newsletter, a notification engine that knows what I’m tracking, projects the trends circulating my core peers, and invests proactively in the products we want to accelerate. It’s a self healing economy, a research coordinator, a humor and media rewarder. On the Gang, we use a blend of live streaming, backchannel notifications, and everything up to but not including a newsletter.

From its earliest days, Twitter promised a future where RSS authority would be mined in a social context. What I mean by that is RSS delivered the ability, the chair in the sky opportunity Louis C.K. described, the chance to explore the world alongside the artists formerly known as accredited journalists. It was always a tough sell for the displaced gatekeepers, but flash forward to today and you can see they’re all bloggers and podcasters now.

The moment the meritocracy window opened, the definition of success moved to the readers, the viewers, the social enterprise as Marc Benioff insisted. Software as a service mined those social signals as fuel for what the iPhone delivered in the mobile wave. Now the mobile economy is expanding to the silicon on the desktop. M1 seems like an evolution, but its entry point on consumer laptops is designed to produce network effects in the same way Office 97 boosted Windows 95 into orbit.

So where is this electric newsletter if it’s so important? As a vehicle for finding stuff I didn’t know I cared about, newsletters suffer from too many of them with too few business models driving them. Subscriptions derive revenue but reduce the network effects of advertising supported subsidy of firewalls. You get reach but quantity explodes. Context glut is not a pretty thing, either.

Our early attempts at constructing a Gang newsletter spawned the realtimeTelegram feed; its group-shared notification stream valuable as much for what we skipped as when we dipped in to it. As a framing device for the Gillmor Gang recording sessions, we could anticipate both what we wanted to talk about and what we wanted to avoid. Trump fatigue gets burned off in Telegram, while science and innovation get drilled down on and fleshed out in advance.

Adding a Twitter feed (follow @gillmorgang) pushes Likes and retweets into the mix. The live recording stream generates Facebook Watch Parties and additional comments. An edited version here on TechCrunch adds this related commentary. But where’s the newsletter for all these live pieces?

Perhaps the answer goes back to the Jetpack? It may not be the Jetpack we are looking for, but rather the components that make up this stream as a service. A Jetpack offers the dream of instant teleportation without the traffic jams or being polite about your Uber driver’s musical taste. Zoom already offers some of that promise, where saving the commute opens up hours in your day. Zoom-enabled shopping and delivery management will go a long way.

As Donovan presciently proclaimed, Electrical Banana gonna to be the very next phase. My electric newsletter is the perfect definition of a pipe dream. It’s not so much as when it’s going to get here as what.

__________________

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary, and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live Friday, November 20, 2020.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

For more, subscribe to the Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

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