Welcome to Around the World, our summary of top digital media headlines from countries other than the United States. We’re always looking for stories that don’t get enough Stateside attention, so hit us up at email@example.com if you have one.
TikTok has rescued its Indonesian social shopping empire (for now)
In September 2023, the Indonesian government jeopardized TikTok’s ecommerce business in one of its most lucrative markets. In hopes of protecting local businesses, the Southeast Asian nation barred financial transactions on social media, dealing a blow to local TikTok Shop vendors.
TikTok wasn’t about to give up a multi-billion-dollar market without a fight, and the ByteDance-owned app found a solution to its Indonesia problem in the form of GoTo. The most valuable startup in Indonesia will get even richer thanks to a $1.5 billion investment from TikTok. The funds will go toward a new platform that will combine GoTo’s Tokopedia with TikTok Shop to create a single (above-board) ecommerce hub. So TikTok vendors in Southeast Asia will be back in business — at least for now.
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Italy fines YouTube, Twitch over gambling ads
Big tech platforms have once again run into a familiar foe: European regulators. This time, however, it’s not the European Union that’s checking the power of online video leaders. A communications watchdog in Italy has issued fines for YouTube and Twitch, citing breaches of national advertising rules.
In particular, Italian officials believe that YouTube and Twitch hosted gambling ads that ran afoul of local laws. YouTube’s fine totals 2.25 million euros ($2.45 million) while Twitch has been asked to pay 900,000 euros ($981,180). The communications agency known as AGCOM is also asking for the removal of 20,000 online videos that promote different types of gambling.
Brazil is the latest country to institute a “crypto tax”
Crypto is supposed to be a decentralized form of currency, but that’s not stopping national governments from slapping taxes onto blockchain transactions. Brazil has instituted a crypto tax, joining countries like Australia and Germany that have tried to take a cut of citizens’ crypto earnings. Brazil’s version of the crypto tax applies to overseas transactions and also applies to investment funds, real estate, trusts, and platform-based earnings. Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva signed the tax into law on December 12. Starting in 2024, the tax rate will be set at 15%.
AI-generated videos spread pro-China messages on YouTube
Much has been said about the Chinese government’s alleged attempts to influence popular opinion on TikTok. According to the New York Times, pro-China messages are spreading on YouTube, too. The Times cited data from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which cataloged a pro-China and anti-U.S. messaging campaign that included 4,500 videos. Topics covered by the videos included tech companies and the Israel-Palestine war. Many of the videos in question feature AI-generated avatars and scripts. So if you see a stilted character telling you how Huawei is so much better than Apple, make sure to take it with a grain of salt.
YouTube’s anti-piracy tools have made it a hotbed for Nigerian filmmakers
The Nigerian film industry, known as Nollywood, is one of the most prominent moviemaking industries on the African continent. Nigerian filmmakers have found success at home and abroad. That success has led to rampant piracy, which has frustrated some directors.
Now, a solution has emerged: YouTube. Nigerian filmmakers like Seun Oloketuyi are distributing films exclusively on YouTube so that they can take advantage of the platform’s anti-piracy tool. Ibrahim Yekini, an actor who can be seen in Nollywood hits like Jagun Jagun, has already seen how YouTube distribution has helped movies like Ji Masun. “We moved to YouTube to escape CD piracy, which has now reduced,” he said.