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    What is Going on with China, Cotton and All of These Clothing Brands?

    A user’s guide to the latest cross-border social media fashion crisis.Last week, calls for the cancellation of H&M and other Western brands went out across Chinese social media as human rights campaigns collided with cotton sourcing and political gamesmanship. Here’s what you need to know about what’s going on and how it may affect everything from your T-shirts to your trench coats.What’s all this I’m hearing about fashion brands and China? Did someone make another dumb racist ad?No, it’s much more complicated than an offensive and obvious cultural faux pas. The issue centers on the Xinjiang region of China and allegations of forced labor in the cotton industry — allegations denied by the Chinese government. Last summer, many Western brands issued statements expressing concerns about human rights in their supply chain. Some even cut ties with the region all together.Now, months later, the chickens are coming home to roost: Chinese netizens are reacting with fury, charging the allegations are an offense to the state. Leading Chinese e-commerce platforms have kicked major international labels off their sites, and a slew of celebrities have denounced their former foreign employers.Why is this such a big deal?The issue has growing political and economic implications. On the one hand, as the pandemic continues to roil global retail, consumers have become more attuned to who makes their clothes and how they are treated, putting pressure on brands to put their values where their products are. One the other, China has become an evermore important sales hub to the fashion industry, given its scale and the fact that there is less disruption there than in other key markets, like Europe. Then, too, international politicians are getting in on the act, imposing bans and sanctions. Fashion has become a diplomatic football.This is a perfect case study of what happens when market imperatives come up against global morality.Tell me more about Xinjiang and why it is so important.Xinjiang is a region in northwest China that happens to produce about a fifth of the world’s cotton. It is home to many ethnic groups, especially the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority. Though it is officially the largest of China’s five autonomous regions, which in theory means it has more legislative self-control, the central government has been increasingly involved in the area, saying it must exert its authority because of local conflicts with the Han Chinese (the ethnic majority) who have been moving into the region. This has resulted in draconian restrictions, surveillance, criminal prosecutions and forced-labor camps.OK, and what about the Uyghurs?A predominantly Muslim Turkic group, the Uyghur population within Xinjiang numbers just over 12 million, according to official figures released by Chinese authorities. As many as one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been retrained to become model workers, obedient to the Chinese Communist Party via coercive labor programs.Burberry created signature check “skins” for characters in the Honor of Kings video game, which its owner, the Chinese technology company Tencent, removed over the company’s stand on cotton produced in the Xinjiang region.via Honor of KingsSo this has been going on for awhile?At least since 2016. But after The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Axios and others published reports that connected Uyghurs in forced detention to the supply chains of many of the world’s best-known fashion retailers, including Adidas, Lacoste, H&M, Ralph Lauren and the PVH Corporation, which owns Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, many of those brands reassessed their relationships with Xinjiang-based cotton suppliers.In January, the Trump administration banned all imports of cotton from the region, as well as products made from the material and declared what was happening “genocide.” At the time, the Workers Rights Consortium estimated that material from Xinjiang was involved in more than 1.5 billion garments imported annually by American brands and retailers.That’s a lot! How do I know if I am wearing a garment made from Xinjiang cotton?You don’t. The supply chain is so convoluted and subcontracting so common that often it’s hard for brands themselves to know exactly where and how every component of their garments is made.So if this has been an issue for over a year, why is everyone in China freaking out now?It isn’t immediately clear. One theory is that it is because of the ramp-up in political brinkmanship between China and the West. On March 22, Britain, Canada, the European Union and the United States announced sanctions on Chinese officials in an escalating row over the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.Not long after, screenshots from a statement posted in September 2020 by H&M citing “deep concerns” about reports of forced labor in Xinjiang, and confirming that the retailer had stopped buying cotton from growers in the region, began circulating on Chinese social media. The fallout was fast and furious. There were calls for a boycott, and H&M products were soon missing from China’s most popular e-commerce platforms, Alibaba Group’s Tmall and JD.com. The furor was stoked by comments on the microblogging site Sina Weibo from groups like the Communist Youth League, an influential Communist Party organization.Within hours, other big Western brands like Nike and Burberry began trending for the same reason.And it’s not just consumers who are up in arms: Influencers and celebrities have also been severing ties with the brands. Even video games are bouncing virtual “looks” created by Burberry from their platforms.Backtrack: What do influencers have to do with all this?Influencers in China wield even more power over consumer behavior than they do in the West, meaning they play a crucial role in legitimizing brands and driving sales. When Tao Liang, otherwise known as Mr. Bags, did a collaboration with Givenchy, for example, the bags sold out in 12 minutes; a necklace-bracelet set he made with Qeelin reportedly sold out in one second (there were 100 made). That’s why H&M worked with Victoria Song, Nike with Wang Yibo and Burberry with Zhou Dongyu.But Chinese influencers and celebrities are also sensitive to pleasing the central government and publicly affirming their national values, often performatively choosing their country over contracts.In 2019, for example, Yang Mi, the Chinese actress and a Versace ambassador, publicly repudiated the brand when it made the mistake of creating a T-shirt that listed Hong Kong and Macau as independent countries, seeming to dismiss the “One China” policy and the central government’s sovereignty. Not long afterward, Coach was targeted after making a similar mistake, creating a tee that named Hong Kong and Taiwan separately; Liu Wen, the Chinese supermodel, immediately distanced herself from the brand.The actress Zhou Dongyu, the actor Wang Yibo and the singer and actress Victoria Song, all Chinese influencers who had deals with Western brands that they then  repudiated when their products were said to disrespect the Chinese people and government.VCG/VCG, via Getty ImagesAnd what’s with the video games?Tencent removed two Burberry-designed “skins” — outfits worn by video game characters that the brand had introduced with great fanfare — from its popular title Honor of Kings as a response to news that the brand had stopped buying cotton produced in the Xinjiang region. The looks had been available for less than a week.So this is hitting both fast fashion and the high end. How much of the fashion world is involved?Potentially, most of it. So far Adidas, Nike, Converse and Burberry have all been swept up in the crisis. Even before the ban, additional companies like Patagonia, PVH, Marks & Spencer and the Gap had announced that they did not source material from Xinjiang and had officially taken a stance against human rights abuses.This week, however, several brands, including VF Corp., Inditex (which owns Zara) and PVH all quietly removed their policies against forced labor from their websites.That seems squirrelly. Is this likely to escalate?Brands seem to be concerned that the answer is yes, since, apparently fearful of offending the Chinese government, some companies have proactively announced that they will continue buying cotton from Xinjiang. Hugo Boss, the German company whose suiting is a de facto uniform for the financial world, posted a statement on Weibo saying, “We will continue to purchase and support Xinjiang cotton” (even though last fall the company had announced it was no longer sourcing from the region). Muji, the Japanese brand, is also proudly touting its use of Xinjiang cotton on its Chinese websites, as is Uniqlo.Wait … I get playing possum, but why would a company publicly pledge its allegiance to Xinjiang cotton?It’s about the Benjamins, buddy. According to a report from Bain & Company released last December, China is expected to be the world’s largest luxury market by 2025. Last year it was the only part of the world to report year on year growth, with the luxury market reaching 44 billion euros ($52.2 billion).Is anyone going to come out of this well?One set of winners could be the Chinese fashion industry, which has long played second fiddle to Western brands, to the frustration of many businesses there. Shares in Chinese apparel groups and textile companies with ties to Xinjiang rallied this week as the backlash gained pace. And more than 20 Chinese brands publicly made statements touting their support for Chinese cotton. More

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    Google Aims to Be the Anti-Amazon of E-Commerce. It Has a Long Way to Go.

    Google presents itself to independent sellers as cheaper and less restrictive. But it is not clear whether it can change people’s habits of going straight to Amazon.OAKLAND, Calif. — Google tried to copy Amazon’s playbook to become the shopping hub of the internet, with little success. Now it is trying something different: the anti-Amazon strategy.Google is trying to present itself as a cheaper and less restrictive option for independent sellers. And it is focused on driving traffic to sellers’ sites, not selling its own version of products, as Amazon does.In the last year, Google eliminated fees for merchants and allowed sellers to list their wares in its search results for free. It is also trying to make it easier for small, independent shops to upload their inventory of products to appear in search results and buy ads on Google by teaming up with Shopify, which powers online stores for 1.7 million merchants who sell directly to consumers.But like Google’s many attempts during its two-decade quest to compete with Amazon, this one shows little sign of working. Google has nothing as alluring as the $295 billion that passed through Amazon’s third-party marketplace in 2020. The amount of goods people buy on Google is “very small” by comparison — probably around $1 billion, said Juozas Kaziukenas, the founder of Marketplace Pulse, a research company.Amazon is a fixture in the lives of many Americans. It has usurped Google as the starting point for shoppers and has become equally essential for marketers. Amazon’s global advertising business grew 30 percent to $17.6 billion in 2020, trailing only Google and Facebook in the United States.But as the pandemic has forced many stores to go online, it has created a new opening for Google to woo sellers who feel uneasy about building their businesses on Amazon.Christina Stang, 33, opened Fritzy’s Roller Skate Shop near Pacific Beach in San Diego last March. Shelter-in-place orders forced her to set up an online storefront on Shopify.She got lucky. She was sitting on a huge supply of skates when demand surged as skating videos became popular on TikTok during the pandemic.Christina Stang, the owner of Fritzy’s, avoided selling on Amazon because of its fees, but now Google has suspended her account because of a discrepancy in shipping costs.John Francis Peters for The New York TimesShe linked her Shopify account to Google’s retail software and started buying so-called smart shopping ads. Working within an allotted budget, Google’s algorithms pick where to place ads and what products to feature. In 2020, she spent $1,800 on the ads, which were viewed 3.6 million times and led to $247,000 in sales, she said.She considered selling her products on Amazon’s marketplace, but she worried what Amazon’s fees would mean for her already-thin profit margins. She also liked that Google redirected people to her carefully curated website rather than keeping them inside its own store, as Amazon does.“I could sell on Amazon and not make any real money but have a bigger online presence,” Ms. Stang said. “It didn’t seem like a great idea.”Recently, however, she has experienced one of the drawbacks of being stuck in the middle of the partnership between Google and Shopify. Her shop has been unable to list any products since January because Google suspended her account. It said her shipping costs appeared more expensive on Google than on her Shopify-powered website, even though they were no different.Shopify told her that it was a Google issue. Google’s customer service representatives recommended that she hire a web designer. She continues to manage without Google, but it has tainted her largely positive experience.“This has completely cut me off at the knees,” she said. “I’m a small business, and I don’t have hundreds or thousands of dollars to resolve this.”Sellers often complain about Amazon’s fees, which can account for a quarter of every sale, not including the cost of advertising, and the pressure to spend more to succeed. Merchants on Amazon do not have a direct relationship with their customers, limiting their ability to communicate with them and to generate future business. And because everything is contained within the Amazon world, it is harder to create a unique look and feel that express a brand’s identity the way companies can on their own websites.But since 2002, when it started a price comparison site called Froogle, a confusing play on the word “frugal” that required a rebranding five years later, Google has struggled to chart a cohesive vision for its shopping experience.It tried to challenge Amazon directly by piloting its own same-day delivery service, but it shuttered the project as costs ballooned. It tried to forge partnerships with traditional retail giants, only to see the alliances wilt from a lack of sales. It built its own marketplace to make it easier for shoppers to buy the things they find on Google, but was not able to break consumers from their Amazon habit.Last year, Google brought in Bill Ready, a former chief operating officer at PayPal, to fill a new senior position and spearhead an overhaul of its shopping strategy.Around the time of his hiring, Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, warned senior executives that the new approach could mean a short-term crimp in advertising revenue, according to two people familiar with the conversations, who requested anonymity because they were not allowed to discuss them publicly. He asked teams to support the e-commerce push because it was a company priority.When the pandemic spurred huge demand for online shopping, Google eliminated fees, allowing retailers to list products for free and walking back a 2012 decision to allow only advertisers to display goods on its shopping site.Three months after hiring Mr. Ready, Google said the free listings would show up on its main search results. Then Google said customers could buy products directly from merchants on Google with no commissions. It also said Google would open its platform to third parties like Shopify and PayPal so that sellers could continue to use their existing tools to manage inventory and orders and processing payments.Google brought in Bill Ready to spearhead an overhaul of its shopping strategy.Kendrick Brinson for The New York TimesThe partnership with Shopify was especially meaningful because hundreds of thousands of small businesses have flocked to the software platform during the pandemic. About 9 percent of U.S. online shopping sales took place on storefronts powered by Shopify as of October, according to research firm eMarketer. That was up from 6 percent the prior year and second only to Amazon’s share of 37 percent.Harley Finkelstein, Shopify’s president, said Google and Shopify were developing new ways for merchants to sell through Google services, such as experiments to allow customers to buy items directly on YouTube and to display what products stores are carrying in Google Maps.Mr. Ready walked a fine line when it came to Amazon, which is a big buyer of ads on Google, but he made it clear he believed Amazon’s dominance in e-commerce posed a threat to other merchants.“Nobody wants to live in a world where there is only one place to buy something, and retailers don’t want to be dependent on gatekeepers,” he said in an interview.Google said it had increased the number of sellers appearing in its results by 80 percent in 2020, with the most significant growth coming from small and midsize businesses. And existing retailers are listing more products.Overstock.com, a seller of discount furniture and home bedding, said it had paid to list products on Google in the past. But now that listings are free, Overstock is adding low-margin products, too.“When all shopping starts and stops at Amazon, that’s bad for the industry,” said Jonathan E. Johnson, Overstock’s chief executive. “It’s nice to have another 800-pound tech gorilla in this space.”What remains unclear is whether increasing the number of merchants and listings on Google will ultimately change online shopping habits.BACtrack, a maker of breathalyzers, has more than doubled its advertising spending on Amazon in the last two years because that is where the customers are, it said, while it has spent 6 percent less advertising its products on Google.“It seems like more and more people are skipping Google and going straight to Amazon,” said Keith Nothacker, the chief executive of BACtrack. More

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    Tanden’s Confirmation on Shaky Ground as More Senators Voice Opposition

    AdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyTanden’s Confirmation on Shaky Ground as More Senators Voice OppositionTwo moderate Republican senators said they would not vote to confirm President Biden’s nominee to head the budget office, further dimming her chances of securing enough support.Neera Tanden testifying during her Senate confirmation hearing in Washington this month.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York TimesEmily Cochrane and Feb. 22, 2021Updated 6:50 p.m. ETWASHINGTON — Neera Tanden, President Biden’s nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, suffered a significant setback on Monday as two moderate Republicans said they would not support her nomination, potentially dooming her chances for confirmation.The statements of opposition from Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, two Republicans with a professed willingness to work with the Biden administration, further winnowed Ms. Tanden’s chances in an evenly divided Senate. Three senators in four days have announced plans to vote against her, after Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, became the first to publicly oppose her confirmation.A White House official said on Monday that the administration continued to stand behind Ms. Tanden’s nomination, but her path to confirmation was increasingly narrow. Her failure to win confirmation would be the first casualty for Mr. Biden, who has so far been able to win Senate support for several other cabinet picks, though many nominees have yet to face full Senate votes.Ms. Tanden’s fate consumed the White House on Monday, as continued questions about her history of attacking both Republicans and progressive Democrats threatened to undercut Mr. Biden’s promise to bring a unifying tone to Washington. When pressed repeatedly about whether Mr. Biden had any problems with Ms. Tanden’s social media practices, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, avoided answering directly and focused on the nominee’s qualifications.“The president would not have nominated her if he did not think she would be an excellent O.M.B. director,” Ms. Psaki said at a White House news briefing, adding that she disagreed with critics who had concluded that Ms. Tanden was not the right choice for the job.Ms. Tanden’s nomination is endangered largely because of statements she made in the past, particularly on social media, in which she leveled partisan and often personal criticism at lawmakers in both parties. Republican lawmakers have increasingly questioned whether she would be able to bring the kind of “unity” that Mr. Biden has promised.Ms. Collins and Mr. Romney pointed to Ms. Tanden’s approach to social media — namely, a relentless stream of critical tweets that were quietly deleted before her confirmation hearings this month — as reason for their opposition. Ms. Collins was among those on the receiving end of Ms. Tanden’s online wrath, which extended to both lawmakers and activists in both parties.“Her past actions have demonstrated exactly the kind of animosity that President Biden has pledged to transcend,” Ms. Collins said, adding that Ms. Tanden “has neither the experience nor the temperament” for the position. The nominee’s decision to quietly cleanse parts of her social media feed, Ms. Collins concluded, “raises concerns about her commitment to transparency.”Shortly after that statement, a spokeswoman for Mr. Romney confirmed the senator’s opposition, noting that “he believes it’s hard to return to comity and respect with a nominee who has issued a thousand mean tweets.” It was unclear whether that would be enough to pull the nomination.“Clearly, Senator Manchin’s public statement makes this a challenge,” Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat, told reporters on Monday. “We need to find support on the Republican side of the aisle to make up for that vote.”While at least one Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, declined to say whether she had made a decision on Ms. Tanden’s nomination, others echoed the opposition. Among them was Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget during the George W. Bush administration.“I think at some point, she’s just burned her bridges,” Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, told reporters. “So I’m sure she’ll have a great future doing something else, but not as O.M.B. director.”So far, the White House has indicated that it remains behind Ms. Tanden. Ms. Psaki said in a statement after Ms. Collins’s decision that Ms. Tanden “is an accomplished policy expert” and that the administration planned “continuing to work toward her confirmation through engagement with both parties.”Ms. Psaki reiterated that support at a news briefing on Monday afternoon, calling Ms. Tanden “a brilliant policy expert with experience at the highest levels of government.” She added that the nominee had a wide range of support and that she had “worked with partners across the ideological spectrum.”“The president nominated her because he believes she’d be a stellar O.M.B. director,” Ms. Psaki said. When asked if the White House continued to believe that Ms. Tanden had a path to confirmation, Ms. Psaki replied, “we do.” She also said the White House had been “working the phones” and had called Republicans and Democrats over the weekend to try to secure support.Ms. Tanden did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether she planned to remain in the running for the job. She had apologized to lawmakers during her confirmation hearings, saying she regretted her tone and vowing to work with members of both parties.Mr. Biden nominated her before Democrats wrested back control of the Senate in January, surprising lawmakers and aides given her history of inflammatory statements. Ms. Tanden’s prospects have long appeared tenuous in light of her criticism of Republicans and progressive Democrats after serving as an adviser to Hillary Clinton during her bid for the presidency in 2016.At her confirmation hearings this month before two Senate committees, Ms. Tanden apologized multiple times for personal attacks that she had leveled on Twitter over the years. She said she had deleted more than 1,000 tweets shortly after the election in November because she regretted her tone.Although she promised to bring a radically different approach to her communication style if she assumed the job of budget director, Ms. Tanden was confronted by Republicans with her comments about “Moscow Mitch” — a reference to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader — and her suggestion that “vampires have more heart than Ted Cruz,” the Republican senator from Texas.Ms. Tanden does have the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but conservative political action groups and liberal activists have mobilized against her nomination, suggesting that she will be hard pressed to find support from other Republicans.“Neera Tanden is an architect of Obamacare, cheerleader for the Green New Deal and advocate for socialism in America,” David M. McIntosh, the president of the Club for Growth, said this month. “Any senator that cares about working with O.M.B. to grow the economy — not destroy it — should vehemently oppose this nomination.”Republicans were not the only ones who confronted Ms. Tanden. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the chairman of the budget committee, asked her to “reflect” on some of the things she had said about him and his progressive allies over the years.“There were vicious attacks made against progressives, people who I have worked with, me personally,” Mr. Sanders said at the hearing. He also grilled her about the millions of dollars of corporate donations that she had helped facilitate as the chief executive of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. The senator added that he had concerns about whether Ms. Tanden would be beholden to business interests if confirmed.Mr. Sanders has not said publicly whether he will vote for Ms. Tanden.Progressives sought to further derail the nomination on Monday.The activist group RootsAction coordinated a Twitter “storm,” with images and hashtags to encourage senators, including Mr. Sanders, to reject Ms. Tanden. The group pointed to the donations from foreign governments that the Center for American Progress received and her previous comments supporting cuts to social safety net programs.“Tanden has become known as one of the most prominent anti-progressive voices of the neoliberal establishment,” the group said in a background document.But some Democrats argued that after voting against Trump administration nominees they deemed unqualified and watching Republicans dodge questions about social media posts, Mr. Biden should not withdraw Ms. Tanden’s nomination.“She’s qualified,” said Senator Jon Tester, Democrat of Montana. “Anybody who can get both the left and the right mad has got to be qualified.”Ms. Tanden’s nomination did win support from some progressive groups that feared that Mr. Biden would pick someone with deep corporate ties for the job. Jeff Hauser, the founder of the Revolving Door Project, said on Monday that it was surprising that senators would block a nominee because of her tone on Twitter.“The last decade has seen mediocre or worse cabinet appointments rubber-stamped by the Senate with regularity,” he said. “It is unconscionable that the rare exception to that norm might be based on feelings hurt by imprudent tweets and suggests that senators vote more on egos than substance.”AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    Robinhood's C.E.O., Vlad Tenev, Is in the Hot Seat

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }GameStop vs. Wall StreetCharting the Wild Stock SwingsWhat’s GameStop Really Worth?Your TaxesReader’s GuideAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyRobinhood’s C.E.O. Is in the Hot SeatVlad Tenev has incited the fury of the trading app’s fans amid a stock market frenzy. His lack of preparedness on nuts-and-bolts issues was part of a pattern, former employees and analysts said.Vlad Tenev, co-founder of Robinhood, at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters in 2015.Credit…Winni Wintermeyer/ReduxNathaniel Popper, Kellen Browning and Feb. 2, 2021Updated 3:06 p.m. ETSAN FRANCISCO — Vlad Tenev, the chief executive of the online brokerage Robinhood, has had practice doing damage control.Last March, he told customers that “we owe it to you to do better” after Robinhood’s app suffered lengthy outages, leaving many people unable to trade.In June, he wrote in a blog post that he was “personally devastated” and wanted to improve the “customer experience” after a 20-year-old who had a negative $730,000 balance on the app killed himself.And in December, when federal regulators fined his company $65 million for misleading users about how it made money, he said the accusations “don’t reflect Robinhood today.”Mr. Tenev, 33, is now in the hot seat again after Robinhood abruptly curtailed its customers’ trading last week amid a frenzy in stocks such as GameStop, which were driven sky high by an army of online investors. The limits infuriated Robinhood’s users, who were locked out of the action, and the seven-year-old start-up was blasted by lawmakers and others, accused of acting unfairly toward ordinary investors.For days, Robinhood was slow to fully explain why it had curbed people from trading the stocks. Only later did Mr. Tenev disclose that Robinhood had put in restrictions because it did not have enough of a cash cushion to hedge against the risky trades. To increase that cushion and avoid further problems, Robinhood raised an emergency $1 billion last week, followed by an additional $2.4 billion this week.On Sunday, Mr. Tenev told Elon Musk in an impromptu interview on the online conversation app Clubhouse that he knew that Robinhood’s trading curbs were “a bad outcome for customers.” He said the entire experience had been challenging, “but we had no choice in this case.”It was no surprise that Robinhood got caught unawares over the past week, current and former Robinhood employees and analysts said. While Mr. Tenev has helped revolutionize online trading for a younger generation with an app that makes investing easy and fun, his start-up has repeatedly been ill prepared to deal with issues as commonplace as technology glitches and trading hiccups, they said.Many start-ups go through growing pains. But “there’s a consistent pattern which makes one question whether he knows what is going on inside his company,” Vijay Raghavan, an analyst at Forrester Research who covers Robinhood and other brokers, said of Mr. Tenev. Lawmakers and some of Robinhood’s users have been even harsher on the chief executive. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, and Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, have slammed Robinhood for freezing users’ ability to buy GameStop stock. Mr. Tenev has agreed to testify about the issue in Congress on Feb. 18.Even some of Robinhood’s biggest promoters have turned against Mr. Tenev. Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports and a high-profile Robinhood supporter, wrote over a picture of Mr. Tenev on Twitter last week: “Fraud, liar, Scumbag.”Robinhood, a privately held company in Menlo Park, Calif., declined to make Mr. Tenev available for an interview. But Jason Warnick, the chief financial officer, said Mr. Tenev had widespread support internally.“When I watched Vlad, there is absolutely no one else I would want to be with,” Mr. Warnick said about the events of the last week. “He mobilized us in an incredibly effective way.”Venture capitalists who have backed Robinhood, which is valued at nearly $12 billion and is likely to go public this year, also said they had confidence in Mr. Tenev. Rahul Mehta, a partner at the venture firm DST Global, said the speed with which Mr. Tenev had raised the emergency $3.4 billion over the past few days “shows you the support around the table and the belief people have, in particular, for Vlad.”Mr. Tenev, who moved to the United States from Bulgaria when he was 5 and grew up in the Washington, D.C., area, founded Robinhood with Baiju Bhatt in 2013. The two met while studying math at Stanford University.After graduating from Stanford in 2008, Mr. Tenev attended the University of California, Los Angeles, to pursue a Ph.D. in math but dropped out to work with Mr. Bhatt. The pair initially had two other business ventures, including a Wall Street trading firm.But those were short-lived. Instead, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 — which took aim at the power of the big banks — they began talking about how to “democratize finance” for everyone by ending the fees that most brokerages charged to trade stocks. They named Robinhood after the English outlaw of legend who stole from the rich and gave to the poor.In particular, Mr. Tenev and Mr. Bhatt wanted an app that a younger generation could easily use. “People in my age group, the millennials, weren’t getting into the markets and were openly distrustful of the institutions that were providing financial services,” Mr. Tenev said on CNBC in 2015.Mr. Tenev with his Robinhood co-founder, Baiju Bhatt.Credit…Aaron Wojack for The New York TimesMr. Tenev and Mr. Bhatt, who were co-chief executives, made Robinhood simple. Users were able to begin trading stocks with nothing more than an iPhone app and with no fees. The app also made trading feel like a game. New customers were given a free share of stock after scratching off what looked like a digital version of a lottery ticket.The men sought out celebrity investors like the actor Jared Leto and the rapper Snoop Dogg. The co-C.E.O.s often showed up at the office with matching Tesla sport utility vehicles, one black and one white, two former employees said.Inside Robinhood, Mr. Tenev was known as the cerebral coder in charge of operations, said six current and former employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He was known for sitting down at lunch with employees to talk about books or his latest theories from science fiction. Mr. Bhatt was more fun-loving and handled design, they said.Both were active on social media, with Mr. Tenev tweeting emoji-filled, jokey replies to Mr. Musk. Mr. Bhatt broadcast pictures of themselves from floor seats at Golden State Warriors basketball games.As Robinhood grew quickly, though, so did the blunders. In 2018, the company announced that it would begin offering bank accounts. But it had not secured approval from financial regulators, which is standard practice, earning the start-up a swift rebuke.That same week, Robinhood released software that erroneously reversed the direction of customer trades, which meant that a bet on a stock going up was turned into a bet that it would go down. Mr. Tenev oversaw technology.Technological issues continued piling up. In 2019, customers discovered that Robinhood’s software accidentally allowed them to borrow almost infinite amounts of money to multiply their stock bets. Last March, as the pandemic hit the United States and the stock market gyrated wildly, Robinhood’s app seized up for almost two days, leading some customers to lose more than $1 million.That was when Mr. Tenev said in a blog post that “we owe it to you to do better.” By then, Robinhood had more than 13 million customers.Mr. Warnick and other employees said Mr. Tenev had a knack for staying calm during difficult situations. “He doesn’t get emotional,” Mr. Warnick said.But five current and former Robinhood employees said Mr. Tenev moved quickly to new projects without fixing the previous problems. After the March outages, they said, Mr. Tenev told the company that it would significantly ramp up its infrastructure and customer support. Yet almost a year later, the start-up does not offer a customer service phone number, unlike its competitors.Robinhood did not respond to a request for comment on the customer service issues.Last year, Mr. Bhatt stepped down as co-chief executive after returning from paternity leave, leaving Mr. Tenev in charge. Mr. Bhatt remains an executive and is on the company’s board of directors.Robinhood’s technical outages have continued. Last month, the site went down 19 times, more than twice as often as Charles Schwab or Fidelity, according to data from the web tracking company DownDetector. Mr. Tenev has recently kept a low profile. Last year, he said in a podcast interview that he keeps his phone out of his bedroom at night to avoid being tempted to check social media.But over the last week, as the mania over GameStop stock grew and Robinhood was forced to react, Mr. Tenev had little choice but to step out more. He has appeared on television at least eight times from the sparsely decorated living room of the home where he lives with his wife and children.In most of the appearances, Mr. Tenev used technical language and shifted quickly to talk about Robinhood’s moving forward to another stage of expansion.“This is just a standard part of practices in the brokerage industry,” he told Yahoo Finance last Friday, referring to the decision to temporarily halt some purchases. “We’re very confident about our future.”Kitty Bennett contributed research.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    The ‘Roaring Kitty’ Rally: How a Reddit User and His Friends Roiled the Markets

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }GameStop vs. Wall StreetBeating Wall Street4 Things to KnowUnderstanding Stock OptionsA Long Time ComingAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyThe ‘Roaring Kitty’ Rally: How a Reddit User and His Friends Roiled the MarketsA Massachusetts man who goes by ‘Roaring Kitty’ on social media helped fuel the frenzy around GameStop. His $53,000 investment in the company briefly reached $48 million in value.Credit…Max-o-maticNathaniel Popper and Jan. 29, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ETIn mid-2019, a Reddit user — known as “Roaring Kitty” on some social media accounts — posted a picture on an online forum depicting a single $53,000 investment in the video-game retailer GameStop.The post attracted little attention, except from a few people who mocked the bet on the struggling company. “This dude should sell now,” a Reddit user named cmcewen wrote at the time.But Roaring Kitty was not deterred. Over the next year, he began tweeting frequently about GameStop and making YouTube and TikTok videos about his investment. He also started livestreaming his financial ideas. Other Reddit users with monikers like Ackilles and Bowlerguy92 began following his every move and piling into GameStop.“IF HE IS IN WE ARE IN💎💎💎,” one user wrote on a Reddit board called WallStreetBets on Tuesday.Roaring Kitty — who is Keith Gill, 34, a former financial educator for an insurance firm in Massachusetts — has now become a central figure in this week’s stock market frenzy. Inspired by him and a small crew of individual investors who gathered around him, hordes of young online traders took GameStop’s stock on a wild ride, pitting themselves against sophisticated hedge funds and upending Wall Street’s norms in the process.Their actions — pushing up GameStop’s price by buying so-called options contracts that offer a cheap way to bet on a stock’s direction — have shocked established investors because Mr. Gill and his online comrades are the antithesis of the Wall Street titans who have long ruled the stock market.A screenshot of Keith Gill from his Roaring Kitty’s YouTube channel.Credit…via YoutubeWorking far from well-heeled financial offices, Mr. Gill and his fans socialized on Reddit and YouTube and used no-fee online trading platforms like Robinhood and WeBull. Many were so devoted to their GameStop investment that they spent hours each week chatting in the comments section of Mr. Gill’s videos, delving into the company’s financial filings and arcane details about free-cash flow and video game consoles.Their show of force this week underlines how the financial markets have changed by merging with the world of social media and a younger generation of traders who have been empowered by online platforms. It has also made some in this new generation wildly wealthy.On Tuesday, Mr. Gill posted a picture on Reddit that showed his $53,000 bet on GameStop had soared in value to $48 million. (His holdings could not be independently verified.) The post was “upvoted” — the equivalent of being liked — more than 140,000 times by other users. GameStop, which traded at $4 a year ago, closed on Thursday at $193 after reaching more than $480 earlier in the day.“Your example has literally changed the lives of thousands of ordinary normal people,” a Reddit user named reality_czech wrote this week to Mr. Gill. “Seriously thank you.”Larry Tabb, the head of market structure research at Bloomberg Intelligence, said the rise of traders like Mr. Gill “would have been impossible even a few years ago” because every trade came with a fee and there was less focus on the markets on social media. But with people now stuck at home in the pandemic with easy access to free trading at online brokerages, “these guys saw an opportunity and they took it,” he said.Mr. Gill did not respond to requests for comment. His online accounts and email addresses were tied to his old office in New Hampshire and his Massachusetts home. Mr. Gill’s mother, Elaine, confirmed in a brief phone call that her son was Roaring Kitty.“I’m proud,” she said, before hanging up.Mr. Gill’s life as Roaring Kitty began in 2014 when he started a limited liability company with that name. Before that, he was an All American runner in college who could cover a mile in 4 minutes 3 seconds, according to local newspapers. After graduating, he worked as a chartered financial accountant and a financial wellness educator, a recently deleted LinkedIn profile showed.In August 2019, he began posting on Reddit. Like many other Reddit users, he showed familiarity with memes and internet expressions like YOLO (you only live once) and exhibited a love for profanity. The middle letter of the acronym of his Reddit username, DFV, refers to an expletive. On YouTube, TikTok and Twitter, he went by Roaring Kitty.Mr. Gill’s first posts on WallStreetBets showed the screenshot of his E-Trade portfolio with the options trades he had made on GameStop, all of them betting the stock would go up. In the comments, he explained that Wall Street did not appreciate how much GameStop would benefit as new video game consoles were released.Shortly after Mr. Gill placed his trades, Michael Burry, an investor made famous by the Michael Lewis book “The Big Short,” also expressed interest in GameStop. On Reddit, Mr. Gill pointed to Mr. Burry’s post as validation. When others questioned the investment, Mr. Gill held firm.“Dude everyone thinks I’m crazy, and I think everyone else is crazy,” he responded to a commenter when GameStop announced sales had dropped 30 percent in late 2019.Last summer, Mr. Gill started a Roaring Kitty channel on YouTube where he talked for hours about GameStop. He had 418 YouTube subscribers through last November, according to the web tracking firm SocialBlade.In one of his first YouTube videos, he wondered aloud, “Maybe there’s going to be no one tuning in, so this is silly.”He explained that to avoid disturbing his 2-year-old daughter, he was filming in a basement room called the “Kitty Corner,” with a stuffed animal cat on the doorknob.Fast-talking and cracking jokes in between analyzing stocks, Mr. Gill sipped beer, brandished cigars and told viewers he sometimes used a Magic 8-Ball to guide his investments. He often wore a baseball cap over his long hair and a T-shirt with a cat in sunglasses.The comments section of his videos soon became a gathering place for a small group of other GameStop fans. One YouTube follower, Joe Fonicello, known as Toast on Twitter, said he tuned in from an old van that he was traveling across the country in with his girlfriend.Mr. Gill often posted pictures of his GameStop investment.Credit…via Youtube“She thought I was crazy until she heard the thesis” for what GameStop could be worth, said Mr. Fonicello, 21, who said he and his girlfriend’s investment in the stock has grown to over $250,000 this week from less than $10,000 originally.Mr. Fonicello said chatting with Mr. Gill and others online was not just about money. “What went from a great few hours of stock analysis turned into a few hours of just spreading positivity,” he said.Last August, Ryan Cohen, the founder of the pet food site Chewy.com, announced that he had taken a big stake in GameStop. A few weeks later, Mr. Gill’s investment hit $1 million, according to pictures he posted of his portfolio.Through financial filings, Mr. Gill’s crew also discovered that hedge funds such as Point72 and Citron Capital were betting that GameStop’s price would fall, in a maneuver known as short-selling. That angered them.“That’s your ignition switch. A common enemy, so to speak,” said Rod Alzmann, 31, a corporate strategist in Florida who has bet on GameStop for even longer than Mr. Gill and posted online as Uberkikz11. “The speculation is a rush, plus fighting the man.”In December, Mr. Gill’s wife made a cameo on YouTube when her hand appeared on a livestream to clink glasses with him to celebrate GameStop’s stock reaching $20. Mr. Gill wore a pink party hat and sunglasses and sipped what appeared to be champagne.“I certainly do not drive a Lambo,” he said in the video, referring to a Lamborghini. “We rent this house that you see, so it’s been a wild ride for us as a family.”Earlier this month, Mr. Cohen joined GameStop’s board. That caused the company’s stock to rise, enriching Mr. Gill and others. When Mr. Gill showed another picture of his investment on Jan. 13, some of the 44,200 people who looked at the post said his decision not to cash out even a penny of GameStop kept them going.“Daddy’s still in!” said a Reddit user named freehouse_throwaway. “Feels so good.”Late last week, 190,000 viewers tuned in to the Roaring Kitty YouTube channel, which now has more than 74,000 subscribers, as Mr. Gill, in a red bandanna and sunglasses, said he would be stepping away “for a bit.” That day, he livestreamed for seven hours while watching a chart of GameStop’s surging stock, laughing and calling out to longtime comrades in the comments.On Thursday, several online brokerages shut down trading in GameStop, causing the company’s price to plunge by almost two-thirds before steadying. Even ardent supporters wondered if Mr. Gill had finally caved and sold.Mr. Gill then posted another picture on Reddit showing he had stayed firm — and had lost $15 million. His fans cheered.“IF HE’S STILL IN, I’M STILL IN,” over 100 different followers responded in quick succession.Kitty Bennett contributed research.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    Jobless, Selling Nudes Online and Still Struggling

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesA Future With CoronavirusVaccine InformationF.A.Q.TimelineSavannah Benavidez created an OnlyFans account after losing her job as a medical biller. Credit…Adria Malcolm for The New York TimesSkip to contentSkip to site indexJobless, Selling Nudes Online and Still StrugglingOnlyFans, a social media platform that allows people to sell explicit photos of themselves, has boomed during the pandemic. But competition on the site means many won’t earn much.Savannah Benavidez created an OnlyFans account after losing her job as a medical biller. Credit…Adria Malcolm for The New York TimesSupported byContinue reading the main storyJan. 13, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ETSavannah Benavidez stopped working at her job as a medical biller in June to take care of her 2-year-old son after his day care shut down. Needing a way to pay her bills, she created an account on OnlyFans — a social media platform where users sell original content to monthly subscribers — and started posting photos of herself nude or in lingerie.Ms. Benavidez, 23, has made $64,000 since July, enough not just to take care of her own bills, but to help family and friends with rent and car payments.“It’s more money than I have ever made in any job,” she said. “I have more money than I know what to do with.”Lexi Eixenberger was hoping for a similar windfall when she started an OnlyFans account in November. A restaurant worker in Billings, Mont., Ms. Eixenberger, 22, has been laid off three times during the pandemic and was so in need of cash by October that she had to drop out of dental hygiene school. After donating plasma and doing odd jobs, she still didn’t have enough to pay her bills, so at the suggestion of some friends, she turned to OnlyFans. She has made only about $500 so far.Lexi Eixenberger lost her restaurant job three times and had to quit dental hygiene school. She became an OnlyFans creator, but hasn’t earned much so far.Credit…Janie Osborne for The New York TimesOnlyFans, founded in 2016 and based in Britain, has boomed in popularity during the pandemic. As of December, it had more than 90 million users and more than one million content creators, up from 120,000 in 2019. The company declined to comment for this article.With millions of Americans unemployed, some like Ms. Benavidez and Ms. Eixenberger are turning to OnlyFans in an attempt to provide for themselves and their families. The pandemic has taken a particularly devastating toll on women and mothers, wiping out parts of the economy where women dominate: retail businesses, restaurants and health care.“A lot of people are migrating to OnlyFans out of desperation,” said Angela Jones, an associate professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Farmingdale. “These are people who are worried about eating, they’re worried about keeping the lights on, they’re worried about not being evicted.”But for every person like Ms. Benavidez, who is able to use OnlyFans as her primary source of income, there are dozens more, like Ms. Eixenberger, who hope for a windfall and end up with little more than a few hundred dollars and worries that the photos will hinder their ability to get a job in the future.“It is already an incredibly saturated market,” Ms. Jones said of explicit content online. “The idea that people are just going to open up an OnlyFans account and start raking in the dough is really misguided.”The most successful content creators are often models, porn stars and celebrities who already have large social media followings. They can use their other online platforms to drive followers to their OnlyFans accounts, where they offer exclusive content to those willing to pay a monthly fee — even personalized content in exchange for tips. OnlyFans takes a 20 percent cut of any pay. Some creators receive tips through mobile payment apps, which aren’t subject to that cut; Ms. Benavidez earns most of her money this way.But many of the creators who have joined the platform out of dire financial need do not have large social media followings or any way to drum up consistent business.Elle Morocco posted this image to promote herself on her OnlyFans page.Credit…Elle MoroccoMs. Morocco said maintaining the account could feel like a full-time job.Credit…Elizabeth CraigElle Morocco of West Palm Beach, Fla., was laid off from her job as an office manager in July. Her unemployment checks don’t cover her $1,600 monthly rent, utility bills and food costs, so she joined OnlyFans in November.The Coronavirus Outbreak More

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    The Business Rules the Trump Administration Is Racing to Finish

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Presidential TransitionLatest UpdatesHouse Moves to Remove TrumpHow Impeachment Might WorkBiden Focuses on CrisesCabinet PicksAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyThe Business Rules the Trump Administration Is Racing to FinishFrom tariffs and trade to the status of Uber drivers, regulators are trying to install new rules or reduce regulations before President-elect Joe Biden takes over.President Trump is rushing to put into effect new economic regulations and executive orders before his term comes to a close.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York TimesJan. 11, 2021, 3:00 a.m. ETIn the remaining days of his administration, President Trump is rushing to put into effect a raft of new regulations and executive orders that are intended to put his stamp on business, trade and the economy.Previous presidents in their final term have used the period between the election and the inauguration to take last-minute actions to extend and seal their agendas. Some of the changes are clearly aimed at making it harder, at least for a time, for the next administration to pursue its goals.Of course, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. could issue new executive orders to overturn Mr. Trump’s. And Democrats in Congress, who will control the House and the Senate, could use the Congressional Review Act to quickly reverse regulatory actions from as far back as late August.Here are some of the things that Mr. Trump and his appointees have done or are trying to do before Mr. Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. — Peter EavisProhibiting Chinese apps and other products. Mr. Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday banning transactions with eight Chinese software applications, including Alipay. It was the latest escalation of the president’s economic war with China. Details and the start of the ban will fall to Mr. Biden, who could decide not to follow through on the idea. Separately, the Trump administration has also banned the import of some cotton from the Xinjiang region, where China has detained vast numbers of people who are members of ethnic minorities and forced them to work in fields and factories. In another move, the administration prohibited several Chinese companies, including the chip maker SMIC and the drone maker DJI, from buying American products. The administration is weighing further restrictions on China in its final days, including adding Alibaba and Tencent to a list of companies with ties to the Chinese military, a designation that would prevent Americans from investing in those businesses. — Ana SwansonDefining gig workers as contractors. The Labor Department on Wednesday released the final version of a rule that could classify millions of workers in industries like construction, cleaning and the gig economy as contractors rather than employees, another step toward endorsing the business practices of companies like Uber and Lyft. — Noam ScheiberTrimming social media’s legal shield. The Trump administration recently filed a petition asking the Federal Communications Commission to narrow its interpretation of a powerful legal shield for social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube. If the commission doesn’t act before Inauguration Day, the matter will land in the desk of whomever Mr. Biden picks to lead the agency. — David McCabeTaking the tech giants to court. The Federal Trade Commission filed an antitrust suit against Facebook in December, two months after the Justice Department sued Google. Mr. Biden’s appointees will have to decide how best to move forward with the cases. — David McCabeAdding new cryptocurrency disclosure requirements. The Treasury Department late last month proposed new reporting requirements that it said were intended to prevent money laundering for certain cryptocurrency transactions. It gave only 15 days — over the holidays — for public comment. Lawmakers and digital currency enthusiasts wrote to the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, to protest and won a short extension. But opponents of the proposed rule say the process and substance are flawed, arguing that the requirement would hinder innovation, and are likely to challenge it in court. — Ephrat LivniLimiting banks on social and environmental issues. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is rushing a proposed rule that would ban banks from not lending to certain kinds of businesses, like those in the fossil fuel industry, on environmental or social grounds. The regulator unveiled the proposal on Nov. 20 and limited the time it would accept comments to six weeks despite the interruptions of the holidays. — Emily FlitterOverhauling rules on banks and underserved communities. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is also proposing new guidelines on how banks can measure their activities to get credit for fulfilling their obligations under the Community Reinvestment Act, an anti-redlining law that forces them to do business in poor and minority communities. The agency rewrote some of the rules in May, but other regulators — the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation — did not sign on. — Emily FlitterInsuring “hot money” deposits. On Dec. 15, the F.D.I.C. expanded the eligibility of brokered deposits for insurance coverage. These deposits are infusions of cash into a bank in exchange for a high interest rate, but are known as “hot money” because the clients can move the deposits from bank to bank for higher returns. Critics say the change could put the insurance fund at risk. F.D.I.C. officials said the new rule was needed to “modernize” the brokered deposits system. — Emily FlitterNarrowing regulatory authority over airlines. The Department of Transportation in December authorized a rule, sought by airlines and travel agents, that limits the department’s authority over the industry by defining what constitutes an unfair and deceptive practice. Consumer groups widely opposed the rule. Airlines argued that the rule would limit regulatory overreach. And the department said the definitions it used were in line with its past practice. — Niraj ChokshiRolling back a light bulb rule. The Department of Energy has moved to block a rule that would phase out incandescent light bulbs, which people and businesses have increasingly been replacing with much more efficient LED and compact fluorescent bulbs. The energy secretary, Dan Brouillette, a former auto industry lobbyist, said in December that the Trump administration did not want to limit consumer choice. The rule had been slated to go into effect on Jan. 1 and was required by a law passed in 2007. — Ivan PennAdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    Here Are The 8 Chinese Apps Trump Banned

    AdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyTrump Bans Alipay and 7 Other Chinese AppsThe White House took a surprise parting shot at China on Tuesday by banning the popular Chinese payment service and other applications.An executive order signed by President Trump on Tuesday banned the payment apps Alipay and WeChat Pay.Credit…Greg Baker/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesJan. 5, 2021, 6:43 p.m. ETWASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order prohibiting transactions with eight Chinese software applications, including Alipay, the payment platform owned by Ant Group, and WeChat Pay, which is owned by Tencent.The move, two weeks before the end of Mr. Trump’s term, could help lock in his administration’s harsher stance toward China and is likely to further rankle Beijing.The executive order, issued late Tuesday, will bar any transactions with “persons that develop or control” the apps of Alipay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, WeChat Pay, and WPS Office and their subsidiaries after a period of 45 days.In the order, the president said that “the pace and pervasiveness of the spread in the United States of certain connected mobile and desktop applications and other software developed or controlled by persons in the People’s Republic of China” continued to threaten American national security. “At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by these Chinese connected software applications,” he wrote.The Trump administration has ramped up tariffs and waged a trade war against China in recent years. It has also targeted Chinese-owned social media services, saying they provide a conduit for Chinese espionage and pose a national security risk to the American public. Last fall, the Trump administration issued executive orders banning two other popular Chinese-owned social media services, TikTok and WeChat.But both of those bans have become entangled in litigation, and the services continue to operate in the United States. That raises the question of whether American courts will issue an injunction to stop Mr. Trump’s latest bans on Chinese services as well.In a statement, Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, said he had directed his department to begin enacting the orders, “including identifying prohibited transactions related to certain Chinese connected software applications.”“I stand with President Trump’s commitment to protecting the privacy and security of Americans from threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party,” he added.The incoming Biden administration has not clarified whether it will continue to try to enforce Mr. Trump’s bans. Reuters earlier reported the signing.This is a developing story. Check back for updates.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More