YIKES: CCP-Tied TikTok Sister App Lemon8 Gaining Traction

April 13th, 2023 4:11 PM

As Congress and countries across the globe are considering banning TikTok, its Communist Chinese government-tied parent company ByteDance launched a new pervasive social media app in an apparent attempt to circumvent regulators. 

Axios reported Monday that TikTok’s sister app Lemon8 is “gaining traction” in the U.S. The app reportedly "caters to a Gen Z audience [and] features a mix of TikTok-like videos and Instagram-like photos." Both TikTok and Lemon8 companies are owned by ByteDance which has troubling ties to the Chinese communist government.

ByteDance apparently attempted to quell concerns that Lemon8 will become TikTok 2.0 with similar data and national security concerns. The company’s global general counsel, Erich Andersen reportedly told Associated Press that the company is "‘obviously going to do our best with the Lemon8 app to comply with U.S. law and to make sure we do the right thing here.’"

Axios noted that ByteDance's English website doesn't reveal any association with Lemon8 but  there are “clear signs that the two companies are linked.” The Lemon8 developer listed in app stores is Heliophilia Pte., Ltd. which is reportedly a private Singapore firm that “shares the same address as TikTok's Singapore office,” Axios reported. 

Lemon8 has reportedly been downloaded in the United States by approximately 650,000 users in under two weeks. Axios noted that the app is visually similar to Instagram or Pinterest. Like Twitter and Instagram, it also includes a customized "For You" feed, with targeted recommendations for users, as well as a "Following" feed that displays content from other accounts followed by the user. 

Perhaps most troubling is the audience the new app targets. Axios reported that the app targets Zoomers and uses health and makeup tips to attract younger females in the U.S. 

If TikTok’s handling of user data is any indication, Lemon8 is sure to raise further concerns. The UK government fined TikTok £12.7 million — or $15.9 million —  for child data protection violations. The fine originated from TikTok unlawfully using minors’ data of minors without parental consent, in violation of U.K. laws, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The app purportedly allowed over 1.4 million children under the age of 13 to use the app in 2020.

The Commissioner of the ICO further added that TikTok had no excuse for a failure that could have been easily prevented.

“TikTok should have known better. TikTok should have done better,” ICO Commissioner John Edwards said in the press release. “Our £12.7m fine reflects the serious impact their failures may have had.”

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