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esports in WI

Now’s the Time to Get on the eSports Train

Brandon Tschacher, the founder of MKEsports Alliance, joins to tell us everything we don’t know about the rise and popularity of eSports.

Then we discuss all the different debates going on over social media right now: from the TikTok CEO testifying at Congress to Utah being the first state to require parents to consent to their kid’s social media use.

Guest: Brandon Tschacher

Check out this episode on Spotify and Apple Podcasts!

Brandon Tschacher on eSports Growth in WI

Brandon Tschacher, Founder of MKESports Alliance, joins us to talk about (and actually explain) eSports.

In November 2020, he began building what is now the MKESports Alliance, which hosted the first “esports summit” in Milwaukee in March 2022 with 150 attendees from 82 organizations. Esports refers to the world of competitive video gaming.

The ultimate goal of the alliance is to boost economic development around the sector in Wisconsin, said Tschacher, who graduated from UWM with a business administration degree in 2008. The esports ecosystem encompasses not just players and teams, but also the facilities, gaming lounges, marketing, and tourism and hospitality sectors.

Check out the video he made for the Journal Sentinel in 2022 to learn more about eSports and its growth in Wisconsin:

Social Media Update

TikTok CEO Fails to Win Over Skeptical Lawmakers in Fiesty Hearing

At a spicy hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew fought for the app’s survival in the US. With calls to ban TikTok gaining momentum, the company dispatched its head honcho—a Harvard Business School grad—to alleviate concerns that the Chinese-owned social media app could be used as a spying tool far more potent than any balloon.

He Didn’t Make Much Progress

The first lawmaker to speak, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, fired up the grill by calling for a ban on TikTok: “ByteDance is beholden to the CCP, and ByteDance and TikTok are one and the same,” she said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party’s ability to force ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company) to give it information.

In his testimony, Chew didn’t exactly instill confidence that TikTok had a firewall against China. For instance, he couldn’t unequivocally deny that Chinese ByteDance employees can access US user data. “I think quite frankly your testimony has raised more questions for me than answers,” Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester said. But lawmakers didn’t just focus on TikTok’s ties to China. They attacked the app over problems like misinformation, addiction, and dangerous viral trends—issues that Chew pointed out plague US social media companies as well.

TikTok Has Launched a Full-Court Press to Defend Itself

Not only in the halls of Congress but also in the court of public opinion.

  • This week, TikTok sent an army of influencers to Washington, DC, to make the case that the app was a net positive for society and allowed them and other creators to make a living.
  • Chew also noted that TikTok now has 150 million monthly users in the US, equivalent to 45% of the population. His not-so-subtle message: Do you really think you can take away something nearly half of Americans love and still expect to be reelected?

Still, analysts watching the hearing gave Chew’s performance two thumbs down. Wedbush’s Dan Ives called it a “disaster” that only accelerates a TikTok ban or a sale.

Where things stand: The Biden administration has demanded that ByteDance sell its stake in TikTok or get booted from the US. China has responded that it will “firmly oppose” a forced sale.

Utah Governor Signs Laws Requiring Parents’ Consent for Minors to Use Social Media

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed two pieces of sweeping social media regulation into law Thursday that require social media companies to get parental consent for minors using their services, making Utah the first state to impose such measures in the U.S. 

Versions of the regulations are being considered in four other states and in several federal proposals in Congress.

The new Utah laws — H.B. 311 and S.B. 152 — require that social media companies verify the age of any Utah resident who makes a social media profile and get parental consent for any minor who wishes to make a profile. They also force social media companies to allow parents to access posts and messages from their child’s accounts.

The laws also prohibit social media companies from displaying ads to minors, showing minor accounts in search results, collecting information about minors, targeting or suggesting content to minors, or knowingly integrating addictive technologies into social media apps used by minors. They also impose a curfew on the use of social media for minors, locking them out of their social media accounts between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. based on the location of a user’s device, unless adjusted with the consent of a parent. 

Utah’s laws come amid ongoing debates about the impact of social media on young people’s mental health, a link that is widely theorized but remains the subject of academic study. Mental health issues among young people are a crisis, with particular concerns about the mental health of young women.

Social media companies have until March 1, 2024, to comply with the laws, at which point they become punishable with potential civil and criminal penalties.

Reminder! 11 Days Until the Spring Election!

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