As lawmakers debate whether or not to ban TikTok nationwide, its Chinese language father or mother firm has launched a brand new app that’s already getting some traction.
The app, known as Lemon8, is more likely to face a number of the similar scrutiny as TikTok, which has been dogged by claims the Chinese language authorities may power its father or mother firm ByteDance at hand over U.S. person knowledge or push misinformation on the platform.
TikTok maintains that hasn’t occurred. And it’s making an attempt to persuade lawmakers it will probably maintain person knowledge protected.
In the meantime, ByteDance is urgent forward with its growth plans. Right here’s what you should know in regards to the firm’s new app:
WHAT IS LEMON8?
Lemon8 is a photo-based app that resembles a combination of Instagram and Pinterest, and is sprinkled with movies that appear like those posted on TikTok. Social advertising consultants say the app can also be paying homage to the Chinese language social media and e-commerce large Xiaohongshu, which interprets to “little purple ebook.”
Like TikTok, Lemon8’s principal feed encompasses a “following” part that lets customers have a look at content material from creators they comply with, in addition to a “For You” part that recommends different posts. It additionally segments posts beneath totally different classes, like vogue, magnificence and meals, and permits customers to discover content material in different methods.
Just like TikTok and different social media websites, Lemon8 collects person knowledge, resembling IP handle, looking historical past, gadget identifiers and different info.
Each the Apple and Google Play app shops checklist its proprietor as Heliophilia Pte. Ltd., a Singapore-based firm that shares the identical handle as ByteDance and TikTok.
Lemon8 was first launched in Asian markets in 2020 and has already made headway in international locations like Thailand and Japan, with roughly 7.4 million and 5 million downloads respectively, in response to the app analytics firm knowledge.ai.
It was launched within the U.S. in February with little fanfare, however all that modified when media organizations began paying nearer consideration and a few TikTok influencers started selling it.
As of Sunday, the app had 290,000 downloads within the U.S., the overwhelming majority of which occurred in late March, in response to knowledge.ai. It’s additionally listed as one of the vital widespread apps on Apple’s app retailer.
Nicla Bartoli, the vp of gross sales at Influencer Advertising and marketing Manufacturing facility, stated ByteDance reached out to her firm in late February and gave a prolonged presentation in regards to the app and the way influencers can use it. She stated the company, which connects manufacturers with influencers, is recommending that influencers check out the app however isn’t doing the identical with manufacturers since Lemon8’s person base remains to be comparatively small.
It additionally stays to be seen if the app will take off extra organically or flop. The final 5 years have been suffering from social media platforms that received lots of hype, solely to fade in the long run, stated Brendan Gahan, companion and chief social officer on the inventive company Mekanism. He pointed to examples like BeReal and Clubhouse, which garnered lots of consideration previously two years earlier than customers turned their consideration elsewhere.
“Social app success is tough to realize and tougher to keep up,” Gahan stated.
WHAT HAS BYTEDANCE SAID ABOUT THE APP?
ByteDance didn’t reply to a request for an interview about the way it plans to develop Lemon8. However the firm’s normal counsel Erich Andersen famous in an interview with the Related Press at a cybersecurity convention final week that it’ll proceed to develop the app.
“We’re clearly going to do our greatest with the Lemon8 app to adjust to U.S. regulation and to ensure we do the correct factor right here,” stated Andersen, who additionally serves as TikTok’s normal counsel. “However I believe we received a protracted technique to go together with that software — it’s just about a startup section.”
As a part of that work, ByteDance is already looking for job candidates for just a few U.S.-based roles that can assist develop the app’s partnerships with influencers on magnificence, meals, well being and different matters.
WHAT ELSE IS BYTEDANCE DOING?
One other app owned by ByteDance, known as CapCut, can also be listed on Apple’s App Retailer as one of the vital widespread apps within the U.S.
CapCut markets itself as an “all-in-one” video modifying instrument that permits customers to chop or pace up their content material, and do different issues like add filters and music.
Information.ai, the app analytics firm, stated that app was launched globally in April 2020, roughly a 12 months after it was launched in China. As of Sunday, the group stated the modifying instrument had been downloaded 60 million instances within the U.S. and 940 million globally.
ARE LAWMAKERS ALSO CONCERNED ABOUT THE OTHER APPS?
There may be assist for a bipartisan invoice within the Senate, known as the RESTRICT Act, that doesn’t name out TikTok however would give the Commerce Division energy to overview and doubtlessly limit overseas threats to expertise platforms. However it has confronted some pushback from privateness advocates and ring-wing commentators who argue the laws is simply too obscure and might be abused.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, who sponsored the invoice together with Republican Sen. John Thune, stated in a ready assertion that the laws would make it simpler to go after different dangerous apps like Lemon8.
“For too lengthy, our authorities has been enjoying a sport of Whac-A-Mole in the case of addressing the assorted overseas expertise threats popping up throughout us,” stated Warner, D-Va. “The RESTRICT Act would set up a risk-based, intelligence-informed course of to guage and mitigate the dangers posed by tech from adversarial nations, whether or not that be Huawei, TikTok, Lemon8, or the subsequent viral expertise product pushed by an authoritarian nation.”