While American politicians are deciding what to do with TikTok in the US, sometimes taking completely desperate measures, the social network Lemon8, owned by the same developer, the Chinese company ByteDance, is gaining viral popularity in the country.
The platform is positioned as intended “Share content with the youth community” – You can create extensive text publications accompanied by photos and videos. The most popular topics are fashion, fitness, travel and cooking. The feed of publications is formed based on subscriptions and interests of each user. Unlike TikTok, which offers scrolling short videos, Lemon8 is a hybrid of Instagram* and Pinterest. The app has already overtaken Pinterest, the dating service Tinder and the real estate database Zillow in terms of the number of downloads in the US section of the App Store.
When asked who owns Lemon8, there is no simple answer. The media reports that this is a project of the company responsible for TikTok ByteDance, and apparently this is not far from the truth. The Apple App Store lists Singapore-based Heliophilia Pte as the app’s developer – it’s registered at the same address as the local TikTok headquarters, and its director is Zhou Qin, a Singapore citizen. Although last year the agency Reuters connected Lemon8 to Alex Zhu, ByteDance’s senior vice president of products and strategy and former CEO of TikTok. Due to its alleged connection to ByteDance, the Lemon8 platform could come under fire following TikTok, which has been banned from government devices in several Western countries and is now threatened with a ban in the US.
The Lemon8 project debuted in Japan in April 2020. Last year, the platform’s audience exceeded 5 million users worldwide, and versions for Singapore and Indonesia appeared. The growing popularity of the service is reportedly linked to an advertising campaign by ByteDance in the US and UK: the company allegedly lures famous bloggers and pays them royalties.
* It is included in the list of public associations and religious organizations for which the court made a final decision to liquidate or ban activities on the grounds provided for in Federal Law No. 114-FZ of July 25. 2002 “On Countering Extremist Activities”.