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ByteDance pushes Lemon8 in the USA, swerving prospective TikTok ban

The company has been the subject of privacy concerns worldwide
ByteDance pushes Lemon8 in the USA, swerving prospective TikTok ban
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ByteDance is attempting to repeat the success of TikTok with Lemon8, its latest social media app, reports CNBC. Acting as a combination of Instagram and Pinterest, Lemon8 has quickly exploded in popularity, being the second most downloaded lifestyle app in the US over the last month, jumping 693 positions, according to The app was first released in Japan in 2020, and since its global launch on March 29 has been downloaded more than 17 million times worldwide.

Despite this, concerns remain regarding ByteDance’s approach to privacy, and its ties to the Chinese government. Despite its claims not to share private information, Chinese law requires the company to hand over any data, including sensitive information such as geolocational data and contacts, to the Chinese government if requested. This regulation has seen the app banned on government phones in various locations such as the USA, UK, and EU.

However, the USA is considering going further and banning TikTok entirely, with the state of Montana being the first to institute a ban on the app on personal devices earlier this month, calling the app a national security risk and accusing it of encouraging dangerous activities. On a nationwide scale, President Joe Biden has told ByteDance that TikTok faces a federal ban unless its Chinese owners sell its shares in the app.

When life gives you lemons, make Lemon8?

“It’s certainly interesting timing. It seems like ByteDance is pushing Lemon8 as a potential alternative to TikTok,” said German Marshall Fund senior fellow of emerging tech Lindsay Gorman.

“You could see this as the competitive move of a company that’s trying to expand into different consumer markets and segments with more image-based and longer-form written content as opposed to only short-form videos.”

Regardless of ByteDance’s hopes for Lemon8, the fact remains that the same issues which have plagued Tiktok will likely continue. The troublesome legislation which requires the company to share information with the Chinese Communist Party remains in place, and ByteDance may face similar questions regarding the security of user data.

Earlier this month, TikTok was fined £12.7 million by the UK’s Information Commissioner's Office for the misuse of children’s data.