How TikTok is turning a generation of video addicts into a data goldmine

Question: what do men and Excel have in common? Answer: they’re always automatically turning things into dates when they’re not. To younger people – that is, anyone under the age of 20 – Microsoft’s spreadsheet program, a tool as essential to accountants as saws are to carpenters, is the contemporary equivalent of mom jeans, handwritten thank-you notes and cravats: stuff that oldies care about. How come, then, that the hashtag #excel has had 3.4bn views on a certain social media platform and that one Excel expert on that platform has…

Dark week for journalism as four reporters killed around the world

Ten days before she was assassinated outside a Mexican convenience store, Yesenia Mollinedo noticed two mysterious stalkers following her on a motorbike. “We know where you live, bitch,” one of them warned the journalist, the director of an online news outlet called El Veraz (The Truthful One) whose motto is “Journalism with Humanity”. For more than a year, Mollinedo, 45, had been trying to shrug off what she hoped were empty threats designed to silence the stories she published about crime in the coastal town of Cosoleacaque. She repeatedly changed…

Shanghai TV channel postpones Covid spin show after backlash

A state-owned TV station in Shanghai has postponed a show that highlights the positive sides of the city’s response to an Omicron outbreak after an online backlash. Shanghai Dragon Television, the city’s main TV channel that also broadcasts via satellite to Chinese-speaking audiences globally, announced the decision on social media late on Tuesday night, hours after it was criticised online. Dragon TV said it welcomed “valuable feedback to our work”. The pre-recorded show, which would pay tribute to Shanghai’s key workers as well as the government’s leadership, had planned to…

The rise of TikTok: why Facebook is worried about the booming social app

TikTok is on track to overtake the global advertising scale of Twitter and Snapchat combined this year, and to match mighty YouTube within two years, as trendsetting teens and young adults make it the hottest social app of the moment – and Facebook is worried. The Chinese-owned video-sharing platform is forecast to catch up with YouTube by 2024 when both are predicted to take $23.6bn (£18.2bn) in ad revenue, despite TikTok being launched globally 12 years after its Google-owned rival. Helped by unparalleled moments of cool at the height of…

Australian ambassador barred from Beijing security trial of journalist Cheng Lei

The national security trial of Australian journalist Cheng Lei is scheduled to begin in Beijing under tight security and behind closed doors – with foreign journalists and diplomats denied entry. Cheng, a former anchor for Chinese state TV broadcaster CGTN, has been detained for 19 months after a shock arrest in 2020. She was formally arrested in February 2021 on “suspicion of illegally supplying state secrets overseas” but no further details were provided. Cheng’s family have insisted she is innocent. Outside the No 2 intermediate people’s court in Beijing on…

‘I’m on the frontline in Mariupol’: the Chinese reporter embedded with Russian troops

In a flak jacket and helmet, the Chinese reporter Lu Yuguang stands on the side of a road as a Russian tank roars past. “I’m on the frontline in Mariupol,” he says into the microphone. He then interviews a Russian soldier who says he’s not nervous as he’s been “fighting for eight years”. In another shot, Lu talks with a group of Russian soldiers in the back of a military vehicle. The dispatches are unusual for their extraordinary access – Lu, a veteran war reporter for a Chinese news outlet,…

‘A necessary war’: reporting on the Ukraine ‘disagreement’ outside the west

Many an insult has been hurled at Vladimir Putin since he invaded Ukraine a fortnight ago, causing chaos, heartbreak and death. A bloodstained aggressor. A 21st-century Stalin. A total fucking dickhead. Beelzebub. “Look at the face of Putin. You will see the devil,” one US commentator opined on Wednesday as a maternity hospital was bombed in the city of Mariupol. But for the Venezuelan pundit Alberto Aranguibel, Putin’s 24 February invasion was “la guerra necesaria” – the necessary war. The Chinese academic Wang Shuo saw it as “a US-created crisis”.…

Chinese government adviser calls for law to ban ‘fake news’

An adviser to the Chinese government has called for new laws to ban “fabricating and disseminating fake information online”, blaming the rampant disinformation on the internet for polarising Chinese public opinion. Jia Qingguo, a member of China’s highest political advisory body, said he also believed the proliferation of misinformation online had fuelled tensions between China and foreign countries. “For example, there are often people online who, for some purpose, package a foreigner’s vicious remarks against China as the view of everyone in that country towards China in order to incite…

Liz Truss: why EU praise for foreign secretary may be unwanted

It was only a few months ago that Liz Truss, perhaps best known until recently for her strong feelings about the “disgrace” that is imported cheese, was appointed foreign secretary. Some had questioned Truss’s suitability for the role given a patchy record in the cabinet, but the liberty-loving minister has seemingly already made a mark on the global stage. While Downing Street was battling further claims over alleged lockdown-breaching parties, Truss was the recipient of two eye-catching reviews of her performance at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Over…

Hong Kong’s Citizen News to close citing fears for staff safety

The Hong Kong independent online news portal Citizen News has said it will cease operations from Tuesday in the face of what it described as a deteriorating media environment in the Chinese-ruled city and to ensure the safety of its staff. “Regrettably, the rapid changes in society and worsening environment for media make us unable to achieve our goal fearlessly. Amid this crisis, we have to first make sure everyone on the boat is safe,” Citizen News, which was established in 2017, said in a statement. Pro-democracy activists and rights…